Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
The 1995 census of Laos listed a population of more than 92,000 Mangkong people living in the three central provinces of Khammouan, Savannakhet and Borikhamxai. This figure may also include the So group. In Laos the So, Bru and Mangkong are often viewed as one people. Their cultures and languages are similar, but they each possess a separate ethnic identity. The So and Mangkong are also divided by living in different locations. The Mangkong are also located across the border in Vietnam, where they are part of the official Bru-Van Kieu minority group.
Although the original home of the Mangkong was in the mountains between Laos and Vietnam, many have moved to the lowlands during the last two generations and have mixed with the inhabitants there.
The Mangkong language is part of the Western Katuic branch of Mon-Khmer. Some linguists consider it merely a dialect of the Bru language. The Mangkong, So and Bru can all understand each other. According to a government survey, one-quarter of Mangkong are able to read, including only more than one-tenth of women. More than three-quarters of Mangkong people in Laos have never attended school at any level.
The majority of Mangkong are animists. For centuries they have lived in fear of evil spirits, who they make regular sacrifices to in attempts to placate them. Ancestors are also held in high regard. Incense is burnt and prayers are offered for the dead on certain occasions throughout the year.
There are approximately 2,000 Christians among the Mangkong in Laos, especially in Khammouan Province. OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) and Mission Evangelique (Swiss Brethren) had missionaries working among the Mangkong in the 1950's and 1960's. They saw whole villages accept Christ, mostly the result of people being delivered from demonic oppression and supernatural healing of sickness. By the time all foreign missionaries were expelled from Laos in 1975, they had left behind a strong and evangelizing Mangkong church.
The Mangkong believers have endured great persecution and hardship from the Communist authorities in recent years, but most have stood firm in their Christian faith.
* Thank God for the 2,000 Mangkong Christians in Laos. Pray they would zealously share the Gospel.
* Ask God to multiply the Mangkong church for His glory.
* Pray the Mangkong church would receive God's call to take the Gospel to the lost throughout Laos.