Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
About 1,000 Yoy, or Tai Yo people live in Khammouan Province in central Laos. They live at the juncture of three districts: Nakay, Grommarol and Bouarapha.
According to the Ethnologue, there are 5,000 speakers of the Yoy language living in Thailand. Yoy is a member of the Northern Tai language family. All Yoy are adequately bilingual in the national language, Lao. Indeed, to most outsiders there is no visible or cultural differences between the Lao and Yoy. The distinctiveness of the Yoy is confined to their language.
The Yoy are professing Buddhists, although a close inspection of their religious practices reveals a regular dependence on spirit-appeasement and animism.
In many respects, Buddhism has lost some of its authority over the inhabitants of Laos in recent decades. Before the advent of Communism in 1975 it was already showing signs of decay. Nhouy Abhay, a leading figure in the Royal Lao Government, said in 1959, "How much ignorance among the monks! The Pali tongue which is less and less understood has become a screen behind which they hide their ignorance.. This lack of reasoning goes with a daily slackening in the performance of religious rites. Monks relax their discipline, and it can be noticed in temples as well as in the streets, in cemeteries and in homes. In its essence, Buddhism is deeply tolerant; but ours in fact has lost too much of its authority.. In the field of manners, as in religion, our monks are far from being the elite they are supposed to be."
One early missionary summarized the conflict between groups in Laos that are outwardly Buddhist, yet in reality know very little about the faith they so boldly profess: "Ask any person you meet a few questions about the sage who propounded the faith they are supposed to hold, and it will be speedily discovered they...know little of the life and less of the teaching of him whom they apparently worship. The great moral precepts of this religion are not taught to them, are unknown to them."
The Yoy live in a part of Laos with few known churches. They have lived for centuries with little knowledge of Christianity.
* Pray that the Yoy will glorify God and follow His ways.
* Ask God to send Christians to witness His life among the Yoy.
* Pray the Holy Spirit would prepare the hearts of the Yoy to humbly accept Jesus Christ.