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21 December 2017

A Church for the So

Ten years ago, very few, if any, So people called on Jesus as Lord. That was largely because very few of them had ever heard the name of Jesus or the gospel message. The So, located in Laos, are hard to reach, not just spiritually, but geographically as well.

Times have changed. A key catalyst in the formation of a So church was the story of Tongsin, a village madman who experienced a dramatic conversion and became active in sharing his faith with others. Through a combination of miracles, intentional discipleship and testing through persecution, the first So church was established in 2013. Tongsin was (and continues to be) one of its leaders.

At first, the community of So believers did not know a lot of the Bible, but they knew enough to obey. They also knew the power of prayer and they saw God work in miraculous ways. Many people came to them for prayer for their various ailments. God answered and the So saw many healings. Initially, many of the new believers knew Jesus more as Healer than Savior.

The Christians who first began working among the So continued to disciple the new church’s leaders wherever they could – in the jungle, in boats, guesthouses or in town. They were discipled in the basics of following Christ. These new believers understood that they needed to meet weekly for worship, prayer, and studying the Word and they were faithful to do so.

In these early stages, the Christians working with the So practiced the “Model, Assist, Watch, Leave” method (MAWL). They answered every question the new believers had, such as how to say prayers before sleep or in the morning, how to not take part in temple ceremonies but still be a part of their community, how to do a Christian wedding, how to bless a new house, and how to officiate funerals. Everything was modeled and practiced before the new church. Then, the older Christians helped the So Christians do it. Finally, discipleship and encouragement was given over the phone and the So believers began doing it on their own.

As the community of believers grew, they began to practice communion and tithing. They were also taught some basic church administration tasks, such as how to keep a book of accounting and how to select people for various church roles and offices. Eventually, the leaders of the church were established by the laying on of hands and a formal commissioning by the national church.

Today among the 180,000 So in Southeast Asia, there are about seven So churches serving more than 260 So believers. The churches are elder-led and share the responsibility for shepherding, discipling, teaching and starting new groups. Some of the churches have seen started spreading the gospel to other people groups in the region.

There have been setbacks but the So church is remaining steadfast. Recently, a believer’s husband died and his body was taken so that the So Christians could not perform a Christian burial. The So believers prayed and fasted for many days. In the end, they trusted God and did not deny Christ, despite significant pressure to do so. Over the past decade, the So church has grown from being nonexistent to a thriving community of hundreds of believers standing strong in the midst of trials of various kinds.

Will you pray for Mekong Minorities?

  •  Give thanks for how God has worked among the So.
  • Pray for the So church to grow in numbers and maturity.
  • Pray for wisdom, strength and energy for So church leaders.
  • Pray for more So churches to  start sharing the gospel with people groups around them.

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