Laos is a small landlocked country, bordered by Thailand, Vietnam, China, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The Population is Laos is 6.7 million and the official language is Lao. The geography of Laos is diverse, with much of the terrain difficult for easy travel. Laos has 149 ethnic groups spread across 16 provinces. The median age is 19, making Laos the youngest country by age in Asia.
Agriculture accounts for 75% of the economy and the country is developing rapidly. This growth is accompanied by significant social problems. The capital Vientiane is home to a million people.
60% of the population is Buddhist and most of the people are also Animist. Buddhism and spirit worship co-exist easily. There are a small number of Christians and Muslims.
Laos was ruled by the French for over 50 years. In 1954 full independence as a constitutional monarchy was secured. The people of Laos suffered greatly during the Vietnam War with more bombs dropped on Laos, than were used in the whole of World War 2. There are still many unexploded bombs across the countryside of Laos and indeed this limits agricultural development.
In 1975 there was a communist takeover with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPRP) the only legal political party. Laos continues to be ruled by a communist government today and is officially known as Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).
The Anglican presence in Laos began in 1961 when Church of the Holy Spirit, Vientiane (CHS) was under the supervision of the Diocese of Singapore and Malaya. Church activities were suspended during the time of conflict and not resumed until 1991.
A healthy Lao Church, growing spiritually and numerically despite hardship, whose membership extends to all ethnic, language and social groups within the nation.
To serve all peoples in Laos as we display the love of Jesus Christ in word and deed by working with our ministry partners throughout the country.
Today CHS is a vibrant and growing congregation for the Protestant international community of Vientiane. There are adult and children members from many countries attending each week. Tony Paton is the Pastor of CHS and the Church is involved in health, education and prisoner support initiatives. The Anglican Church is currently not an officially recognised denomination in Laos.
The Anglican Relief and Development Agency (ARDA) started in 1992 with an English Language Centre in Vientiane. ARDA is a wholly foreign owned private company and the single shareholder of the company is the Anglican Diocese of Singapore. ARDA is primarily an educational service provider. There are 3 ARDA Language Centres today with Luang Prabang in the north and Pakse in the south joining the centre in Vientiane to provide English and Lao language classes as well as Music classes in Pakse.
There is also a Skills Development Centre in Northern Vientiane and a refuge for street children in the capital called Hope Centre. All the ARDA centres are progressing well but are in need of long term and committed staff. Mr Jeff Jacquith co-ordinates the work of ARDA as well as running a Leadership Training Course with his wife Coiya. This ministry to leaders is a great investment in the future.
In 2010 AgroAsie began operating an organic farm in the Sangthong District, just a hour north of Vientiane. This is a business with a great vision, supported by the Anglican Parish of St John’s and St Margaret’s (SJSM).