Jiang Say church gets government recognition
The Jiang Say Church, now called Muen Luang Village Church has gone from the brink of closure to a full government recognition. How did it happen?
`Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).
Indeed, God is working miracles in Laos to draw His children back to Himself.
The first Seventh-day Adventist church in Southern Laos was pioneered by a Sunday-keeping minister Pastor Khampasong Khammuenlouk.
It started this way: Pastor Mun Lansri, an Adventist pastor from Thailand told Pastor Bouasone Volachit of Laos about the Sabbath. Pastor Bouasone began to search and study the bible for himself. When he found out that the Sabbath was true, he was convicted by the Holy Spirit, and he was eager to share what he had found with his fellow friends who were Sunday Pastors. He shared it with Pastor Khampasong Khammuenlouk. Pastor Khampasong and Pastor Bouasone spent time studying the bible together, and Pastor Khampasong accepted the Sabbath in 1998.
Pastor Khampasong shared the Sabbath truth with his big family. His nine daughters and family friends accepted the Sabbath. More people in the community converted to Adventism this way.
Pastor Khampasong and his team wanted a church building because, in three years, the group grew very fast. They started praying for permission to build a church. God heard their prayers and saw their need. It must be noted that during this time the government did not give permissions to build churches in Laos. But they went to the district governor to ask for permission to build a church anyway. The first permission for the church was granted by the district governor on 30 April 2001. They built their first church building with bamboo and thatched roof. Every year they had to replace parts of the walls and the roof. Then Pastor Khampasong and his team were convicted that they needed a bigger and better church. They prayed together and went to the governor to ask permission for a new church building. God heard their prayers, and on 10 December 2002, they received permission from the government to start the construction of a new church building in Jiang Say village. However, because of a lack of funds, the new church building was not completed until 2017. Pastor Khampasong never saw his new church building as he died in 2012. His wife followed in 2013. But the couple donated their land on which to build the church.
The members enjoyed worshipping in the new church for just a couple of years. Then, shocking news arrived. In December 2018, they received an official letter from the government saying they need to reapply for church permission according to the new Decree 315 which became law in late 2018. This new decree requires all religious places to be re-registered. They were called to meet with the district and provincial governors, and they were shown different steps to redo the church document. At that same time, they found out that other churches in Jiang Say village were closed for failing to meet the new requirements. As they saw the process, they concluded that they couldn't get permission. They needed to go through six important departments at the district level, five at the provincial level, and another five at the central government level. At each step, they would have to defend their position answering a lot of questions. It seemed that they wanted to use the new Decree 315 to close our church. The process was so difficult. It seemed like the church would be closed down.
As they had done in the past, they went down on their knees seeking God’s intervention. Thank God! Because they had an old permission document, they were given a little leniency. One important requirement is that the church land must be at least 5,000 square meters. Their church land is just around 500 square meters.
This told us that the government just really wanted to close our church. We felt hopeless. Thankfully, our God is greater than all the authorities. Mrs. Sendoa, church member in Jiang Say church said that “the only thing we could do was pray, pray, pray, and pray some more, day after day.” God heard their prayers. He arranged an appointment for the church leaders to meet someone who knew so many important people in the authority circles. Those people helped and supported us with the paperwork. It was not easy because there were a lot of documents and a lot of investigations on those documents. To the church leaders, it was God who directed them in every step. After a year and a half, the Muen Luang Village Seventh-day Adventist Church received their permission for a new church building.
Mrs. Sengdao said, “We are so thankful that we have a great God and there is nothing impossible for Him. I thought it would be impossible for us to get it, but nothing is impossible with God.”
Khamsay Phetchareun, Lecturer| Supervisor- Trainer| Acting LAR Director| Communication Director|Asia-Pacific International University
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.