Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
About 2,500 Lahu Phu or White Lahu live in northern Laos. They inhabit the mountains of western Bokeo Province, near the Golden Triangle where the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet. The White Lahu inhabit the Tonpheung district of Bokeo Province and along the Mekong River north to Chiang Kok. Bokeo is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the world. It's 113,000 inhabitants are divided into at least 34 ethnic groups.
The White Lahu language is closely related to both Lahu Na (Black Lahu) and the Lahu Nyi (Red Lahu). The two groups live alongside each other in some locations in Burma. The White Lahu in Laos may have originally come from a Red Lahu village in Burma (Myanmar) close to 100 years ago. Animism is a very strong religious system among the White Lahu which is also true of the Red Lahu, whereas the Black Lahu have generally become Christian, at least in name.
The Lahu in China rebelled more than 20 times throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The region they occupied west of the Mekong River was branded "a place of constant riot." It is almost certainly because of such constant harassment and persecution that the ancestors of today's Lahu in Laos packed up their belongings and migrated across the border to start a new life outside China.
The White Lahu believe in a Supreme God, G'ui Sha, but as of 2004 there were no known Christians among them in Laos. Each village had shamans and at least one had a temple where animistic practices took place. Initially there was a strong antagonism towards the gospel and much pressure from both government and socially. Marriage for the first few young believers was very difficult as parents did not want their daughters to marry Christians. This situation is slowly changing as more and more express interest in following Jesus Christ.
When American Baptist missionary William Young first preached the Gospel to the Lahu in northern Burma in 1901, they exclaimed, "We as a people have been waiting for you for centuries.... We even have meeting houses built in some of our villages in readiness of your coming." Many of the Lahu men wore ropes on their wrists. They explained, "We Lahu have worn ropes like these since time immemorial. They symbolize our bondage to evil spirits. You alone, as the messenger of G'ui Sha, may cut these manacles from our wrists- but only after you have brought the lost book of G'ui Sha to our very hearths!"
An emerging church exists among the White Lahu in Laos today, although believers have been hampered by constant persecution, their geographic isolation and their inability to read God's Word. One ministry has developed extensive story sets that are used for evangelism, discipleship and church planting
* Pray for people to stand boldly for Christ even in the face of persecution.
* Thank God for not leaving the Lahu without a witness in the past.
* Pray the White Lahu would be outward-focused in their faith, burdened and empowered to reach other tribes.
* Pray against bad examples of Christianity they may encounter and especially the trap of foreign dependency.
* Pray they would not be involved with the drug trade or be users of the very available methamphetamines and opium.