Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
Approximately 8,000 members of the Tai Men ethnic group live within Borikhamxai Province in central Laos. They are mostly concentrated in Khamkeut District, with several villages in Viangthong and Pakkading districts. A few have migrated into the Pakxan District in recent decades.
The Tai Men share many similarities to their Lao and tribal Tai neighbors, but their largest distinguishing factor is their language, which is a Northern Tai variety. The Tai Men speak their mother tongue in their homes, but speak Lao with outsiders.
Not only do the Tai Men consider themselves a distinct people group, they also retain many customs that show they originated in a place far removed from their present location.
In Laos, there is always a set of rules and regulations that must be adhered to when a marriage is being arranged. People believe that to upset the protocol could bring bad luck to the young man and girl.
One observer noted, "Usually, a maiden is free to marry the man of her choice. As there are no colleges to be first graduated from, no fortunes to be first won, this she does early in life.... There is no attention paid in public...as this would be highly immodest and unbecoming. But when the couple have decided that they love one another...the consent of the parents of guardians is sought, usually by a go-between. If it is granted, an early day is set for the marriage, at which time the groom pays to the family of his bride the accustomed spirit-fines, signs a marriage contract, drawn up by the heads of the two families, comes to the house of his bride, where together they receive her parents' blessing and become man and wife. By marriage the groom has left his father's house in the full sense of the word. If he has sisters he cannot inherit a single fruit grove nor rice field. He becomes a son to his parents-in-law, and his earnings for several years go toward the general family support. He also changes his former liege lord and becomes a serf to the lord of the family of his wife."
An informant from Borikhamxai believes there are a small number (about 50) of Tai Men Christians in Laos. These are the first-fruits of what will hopefully be a much larger harvest of Tai Men believers.
* Pray God would call the Tai Men believers to live strong, faithful and busy lives among their lost relatives.
* Ask God to spread the Tai Men church among all of their group.
* In prayer, plead with God for the souls of the Tai Men. Pray He would have mercy on them.