Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 50,000 Khmu Rok live in the provinces of Oudomxai and Luang Prabang in northern Laos. The main centers for the Khmu Rok are Houng and Pakbeng districts of Oudomxai Province. The Khmu Rok territory is bordered on the north in Beng District by the Khmu Lu, to the west by the Khmu Lu, Lamet and Nguan, to the east by the Hmong and Khmu Ou; and to the south by the Phai, Lao, Khmu Ou, Khmu Me and Hmong.
The Khmu Rok are the only Khmu group to have wooden roof tiles on their homes- the others simply use straw. The Khmu Rok are one of the more distinct groups of Khmu. It seems the Rok were not even considered Khmu by early visitors. One account from the late 1890's stated, "While the Ka Hawk [Khmu Rok] does not dress at all, unless a loin cloth a few inches wide can be called dress, the Kamu dress like the Lao or Lu of their locality.... The next day we met a [different] company of Ka Hawk. The women wear a skirt originally of white, and wear the hair coiled low on the neck instead of on the top of the head."
The Khmu Rok have a legend of an ancient flood which destroyed the whole earth. A brother and sister, who were the sole survivors, were told by a bird to repopulate the world.
The great turning to Christ among other Khmu groups in recent years has also affected the Khmu Rok. The Communist authorities have not reacted kindly. In 1997, one Khmu evangelist was arrested and placed in a pit covered with barb-wire for three days. He was then put into a bamboo cage for seven weeks for his crime of preaching the Gospel. Instead of having the desired effect of causing the evangelist's new converts to renounce their faith, the church in the village grew from 100 to 400 members! Upon his release, the evangelist said, "Thank you for your prayers. I was released on September 4th with the help of God. While I was in prison I witnessed to the policemen and prison guards and they too wanted to accept Christ. I was imprisoned because people got too excited about God and the Gospel. While I was in prison I was afraid many would turn away from Christ but instead they grew stronger in their faith and more people became Christian...there are now 400 believers in our village!"
* Thank God for the thousands of Khmu who are being set free from sin and demons and gaining eternal life.
* Pray that no Khmu would be outside the reach of the Gospel.
* Pray the Khmu Rok church would be a triumphant and evangelistic Body of believers.