Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
Approximately 400 Chapo Akha inhabit one or two villages in the Long District of Luang Namtha Province in northern Laos. Their location is near the juncture of the Lao border with Myanmar and China. It is likely that members of the same tribe still live in China, and possibly Myanmar, although no research has been conducted to confirm this.
The various branches of the Akha are relatively recent arrivals in Laos. Many fled China during the Chinese Civil War and the early years of Communist rule from the 1930's to 1950's. The Chapo Akha on one hand acknowledge that they are part of the larger Akha group, yet at the same time they affirm their ethnic and dialect differences. Women from different Akha groups in Laos also wear slightly different styles of traditional dress.
Although the Akha have many attractive and joyous customs, they also have a few that reflect their bondage to evil spirits. One such practice is the Akha tradition of killing both babies when twins are born. Twins are considered an evil curse, the result of sin in the family's past. The babies are put to death immediately after birth, often by pouring boiling rice down their throats, or by twisting their heads off. The Akha then drive the mother out of the village. She must never return for the rest of her life.
Most Akha are animists. According to one researcher, "the Akhas believe in a supreme Being, Adoducho, who lives above the clouds and is all-seeing and ever-present. But other sources say that the Akhas have no gods, only benevolent and malicious spirits. Some Akha believe a man's body has nine souls located in the head, mouth, heart, eyes, chest, hands, ears, back, and feet; a woman's body, however, has one more soul located in her breasts."
Some Western researchers find it hard to believe that a group like the Akha could have a large number of Christians in their midst in Myanmar and Thailand, yet remain an almost completely unevangelized people group in a neighboring country. In this part of the world, however, cross-nation access can be difficult, passports hard to come by, and traveling even short distances can be a laborious affair. These factors keep the Lao Akha separated from the light of the Gospel.
* Pray God would place a desire in the hearts of the Chapo Akha to know their Creator.
* Ask the Lord to saturate every Akha community in Laos with His Word.
* Pray for a way for Akha believers in Myanmar and Thailand to plant churches among their cousins in Laos.