Dear Prayer Partners,
Warm greetings in Christ. In my July prayer letter I wrote that of the ten countries represented at the Presbyterian Church of Singapore Synod Missions Consultation, Laos reported unprecedented growth with more than 30 new house churches planted in the capital city of Vientiane. In this letter I will focus on the strategic role that effective partnerships play in Laos. Laos is home to over six million people, 97% of whom are Buddhist or Animist and 2% Christian. For many years Lao Evangelical Church (LEC), the largest Christian church in Laos, has worked to gain recognition and build trust with the government in order to end discrimination and persecution of Christians and create effective partnerships to spread the Gospel throughout their country.
Lao Partners, a ministry of University Presbyterian Church in Fresno, California has joined LEC to provide medical care and equipment, English language classes, and church leadership training. In their work together, they became aware of the need for clean water. In 2008, they began to address the water issue by working with Living Waters for the World (LWW). Designed by Presbyterian engineers and other volunteers, LWW has developed a simple, effective, low cost water purification system that is easily installed and maintained in remote locations. After months of negotiation with government entities, LEC secured permission to install an LWW system in Laos and in 2009, their team installed the first LWW water purification system at the Luang Prabang Teacher’s College. Installing the first system at a teacher’s college, whose students come from all over Laos, helped pave the way for future LWW installations. In 2010, the second LWW system was installed at an LEC church in Vientiane. This installation now serves the three main churches within Vientiane as well as a child-care center. In November a third installation project was undertaken in a village where there are very few Christians and no church. In keeping with LEC’s evangelistic goals, this community will be impacted with the Gospel. We rejoice with Lao Partners, LEC, and LWW for spreading the Gospel to this remote area in Laos.
On a personal note, soon after I returned from my last trip, I experienced chest pain. I scheduled a stress test with my cardiologist, underwent a catheterization, and eventually a quadruple bypass on August 22nd. I am doing well, and we are thankful for access to excellent medical care and for insurance to cover the bills. Also, I was able to complete the requirements for ordination and on November 20th I was ordained to a specialized ministry as a mission co-worker. Family members flew in from California, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island for a wonderful celebration at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Praise God for his healing, protection, and blessing.
Paul Friesen, Regional Liaison Southeast Asia