Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 5,000 members of the Nyahon ethnic group inhabit 30 villages in southern Laos, primarily on the eastern part of the Bolaven Plateau in Champasak Province. Others are found in neighboring Attapu and Xekong provinces. Despite their relatively close proximity to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, there is no evidence of Nyahon people living outside of Laos.
The Nyahon live on the Bolaven plateau at a low altitude but are classified as Lao Theung (300-900m) simply because they are a Mon-Khmer group. The Nyahon used to wear their own style of traditional clothing, but they lost this custom at least three generations ago. Today the Nyahon wear normal Lao clothing.
Although in many respects Nyahon society is matriarchal, inheritance rights are divided equally between sons and daughters.
Pre-marital sex is not only allowed in Nyahon communities, but is actually encouraged. 'Flower' houses are set aside for young people to spend the night together. After marriage, the husband must live with his wife's family.
Animism has a strong hold on the Nyahon. Almost every decision is arrived at only after consulting the wishes of the spirits. The Nyahon believe each person has seven different souls. They especially revere a spirit called Brrah. Other spirits of nature include the spirit of trees, water, rice-field, thunder and mountains.
Shamans, or spirit priests, conduct regular ceremonies where they make sacrifices and offer up prayers to protective spirits. Offended spirits are identified by a ritual involving rice and the organs of a chicken. Special ceremonies are held in the event of a natural disaster or epidemic.
The Nyahon are a completely unreached and unevangelized people group. There is not even a single known Christian in their midst. The best immediate hope for the evangelization of the Nyahon may rest with believers from recent people movement to Christ that have occurred among several tribal groups in northern Cambodia.
* The Nyahon have been separated from the Gospel throughout their history. Pray many would soon hear.
* Ask God to raise up laborers to plant churches among the Nyahon.
* In prayer, disarm the principalities that have prevented the Nyahon from hearing and believing the Gospel.