Lectionary Selection: Isaiah 49:1–7
Prayers for Laos:
Loving God, as we reflect on the year past and the new one ahead, we are reminded of your presence and abundant blessings in our lives. Thank you God, for peace and strength in times of stress, uncertainty, and sadness. Thank you for rejoicing gladness and laughter in the moments we share with those we love. Gracious God, be with the beautiful land and Lao people, specifically the Lao Evangelical Church. Guide the children as they carry out Lao traditions bringing light into the future of this developing community. Build in them a tolerance and acceptance for differences. Remind them -through you - we are one. Bring wisdom, wholeness, and clarity to members of the Lao Evangelical Church as they plan, educational Bible workshops, youth camps, worship services, church leadership meetings. Be with them as they join in youth fellowship and fun, celebrate new beginnings in births and weddings and during times of illness and death. Holy provider, we ask for clean water in the rural villages of Laos. Remind the Lao people they are not alone in their challenges and times of need. Through Christ, we accomplish far more in the community than alone. In all these things, we pray, Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Laos:
The median age of people living in Laos is 21, which makes it a very young place! Children are a vibrant part of the community and educating them is a blessing. Global Ministries partner, the Lao Evangelical Church, offers many learning and recreational opportunities for children and youth through Providence Kindergarten and Primary School. Sunday school, choir, and summer youth camp are safe places to learn about themselves, their country, and Christianity. Specific days are organized focusing on important lessons like the dangers of drugs and alcohol. During Christmas, youth spent long dedicated hours practicing and performing traditional Lao dances and songs in native costumes.
The school opened with 50 kindergarten students in one of the main church buildings in 2003, with a vision of educating children. In 2007, gifts, from the SE Asian Partnership: Mission to the World, financed the construction of a school. As of 2014, 214 students attend Providence Kindergarten and Primary School and there are visions of expanding into a secondary school and/or English school.
Many of the teachers at Providence are related to each other and have formed a second home and community to all the children who come to learn, play, and grow. As an English teacher at Providence, I have become part of this special family. A majority of the teachers are Christian though many students are Buddhist- the dominant religion in Laos. While Providence School honors the diversity of this faith tradition, the school does educate her students about the life of Jesus Christ and God's creation and love. Teachers introduce children to Christian songs, offer prayers before meals and build community. They also play soccer and have a good deal of social fun.
God continues to bestow on Providence, as the name implies, many gifts. It brings me great joy and warmth to be able to teach, learn and grow in this community. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers for the Lao Evangelical Church and all the Lao people.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Nicole Betteridge)
Mission Partners in Laos:
More information on Laos: http://globalministries.org/sasia/countries/laos/
Global Ministries Missionary in Laos:
Nicole Betteridge, member of Decorah United Church of Christ, Decorah, Iowa, serves as a Global Mission Intern with the Lao Evangelical Church in Laos. She teaches English with the Lao Evangelical Church and volunteers with the Children's Development Centers.