We must leave the village tonight and head for the border, or it will be too late!” whispered 14-year-old Jay Lo to his friends. War had ravaged Laos, Jay’s homeland. Jay’s father had been killed, and the Communists had taken over the country. Jay knew that he’d have to leave Laos if he wanted to live.
“Others want to come with us,” Jay’s friends said. “We can’t leave them behind!” Under the cover of darkness 265 people began the 17-day journey to Thailand; only 96 made it.
Life in a refugee camp was difficult at best. Then Jay learned that his uncle lived in another section of the camp. His uncle welcomed Jay as his son. For the first time Jay was exposed to Christians. He realized that Christians were different from most people he knew.
In time Jay and his uncle’s family were able to relocate in the United States. Jay was eager to continue his education. In time he gave his life to God.
Jay studied in a Christian college, where he met Paniya, a young Hmong woman who also was studying there. They both wanted to take Christ to their own people. They felt God leading them into a lifelong relationship, and the couple was married. They were among the first of their ethnic group, the Hmong [huh-MAWNG], to receive college degrees.
Family members who remained in Thailand had become Christians, and they asked Jay to send someone to teach them the Bible. Jay couldn’t go, but he sent his cousin, who was studying at a Protestant seminary. The young man led 50 people to Christ before he was poisoned by someone who resented his efforts to bring Christ to the Hmong.
“We are sad that your cousin has died,” a friend told Jay. “You should prepare to take his place and minister to the Hmong.”
How can I say no? Jay wondered. He recalled his desire to be a missionary to his own people. Jay entered the seminary and earned a degree in religion. A Protestant church hired the couple to train lay Bible workers in the United States and Asia.
Jay was frustrated by the poor translation of the Hmong Bible. My people need a better translation of God’s word so they can learn who God really is, he thought.
His in-depth Bible study raised more questions, including questions about the Sabbath. He went to a church official for answers, but was greeted with a challenge. “Are you questioning the church’s teachings?”
“No,” Jay replied. “But the Bible says that if we break one commandment, we break them all. I need to understand where the truth lies.”
Soon after that Jay received a letter from his church’s headquarters notifying him that he was no longer needed as a teacher and pastor. Suddenly Jay had no job. For months he searched for work. The family lost their home and most of their possessions. “Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?” Jay asked his wife.
Then Jay’s cousin introduced him to a Hmong pastor named Ko. Jay learned that Pastor Ko is a Seventh-day Adventist who worked in a nearby metropolitan area. Jay told Pastor Ko about his Bible study that led to losing his job.
“You are right,” Pastor Ko said. “The Bible says we are to keep the Sabbath, so Seventh-day Adventists do.” Jay was excited to learn that there was a church that kept all of the Ten Commandments.
Jay and Paniya studied with Pastor Ko and discovered that their questions had answers. Soon they asked to become Seventh-day Adventists.
The Adventist Church sponsored Jay to study at Andrews University Theological Seminary for a year to prepare for a new ministry. He is translating the Bible into Hmong and has completed several books. “God has blessed me so much through His Word. I want other Hmong to be able to read the good news in their own language so they can make their choice to follow Him.”
This quarter part of our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help expand the church’s work among dozens of refugee groups throughout North America. Thank you for your sacrificial gift to help reach these people for Christ.
Jay Lo is working to translate a more accurate translation of the Hmong Bible and ministering to scattered Hmong Christians across North America.