Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 7,000 Lao Isan people live inside the nation of Laos. The classification of the Isan inside Laos is problematic, as their language is basically identical to Lao, and culturally and socially they are the same.
Despite these similarities, several ethnographic sources list the Lao Isan people in Laos, including Laurent Chazee in his 1995 book. According to Chazee, the Lao Isan are dispersed in the Vientiane Municipality and neighboring parts of the Thaphabai District in Borikhamxai Province; while there are also Lao Isan in southern Laos, including the whole western part of Champasak Province, and near Savannakhet City. The Lao Isan invariably live near the Thai border.
According to Thai sources, there are about 21 million Isan in Thailand, occupying the whole northeast of the country. About one million Isan live in the city of Bangkok. Despite pressure from the Thai government to make Central (Bangkok) Thai the national standard language, 88% of Isan in Thailand speak Isan in their homes, 1% exclusively use Central Thai, and 11% use both. There are a number of Isan migrant workers presently living in Singapore and various Middle East nations.
Isan is a Sanskrit word. They are named after Phra Isuan, also known as Shiva, the Hindu god of Destruction.
Buddhism was introduced to the region at least 1,000 years ago. One commen-tator has stated, "The rural [Isan] is likely to be staunch Buddhist but he is unlikely to have any real understanding of Buddhist doctrine or to be concerned with the long and difficult task of subduing desire and craving. He sees his religion in a much simpler, pragmatic light. He will wish to keep the Five Precepts- don't kill, steal, lie, drink alcohol, or commit adultery- (almost certainly unsuccessfully); and will believe that he should be tolerant, kindly and generous to others. These attitudes will acquire him a good balance of merit, leading he expects, to a better life."
There are estimated to be about 20,000 Isan Christians in Thailand.
* The Isan are one of the largest blocks of unreached people in the world. Pray God would woo their hearts.
* Ask God to send Isan believers from Thailand as evangelists into Laos.
* Pray the Isan would be disillusioned with Buddhism and would seek to fill the voids in their hearts with Christ.