Lao Christian Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)
The Communist take-over in South-East Asia in 1976-1978 created a large number of refugees. Many of these refugees were eventually sponsored by churches throughout the Fraser Valley. To avoid the duplication of services in the area, the Christian Reformed Church agreed to concentrate on Chinese refugees, the Mennonite Brethren Church on Vietnamese refugees, and the Mennonite Church on Laotians. Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church sponsored 13 Laotian families from a refugee camp in Thailand and made their facilities available for use.
The refugees needed help in starting a new life in the Fraser Valley and in relating to another culture. Aiding them were long-time missionaries Jake and Dorothy Giesbrecht, and Eben-Ezer members Peter and Helen Sawatzky.
Sylang Kaneboodtra was a refugee who had ministered to Laotians in the refugee camps in South-East Asia. He arrived in Canada under the sponsorship of a Church of Christ congregation on Vancouver Island. He became aware of the Laotian activity at Eben-Ezer, and became their spiritual leader in 1980 while using Eben-Ezer's facilities as a meeting place. The congregation, composed of 13 families, formally organized on 6 November 1983.
The early 1980s saw a searching out and outreach to Laotian refugees in the valley from Vancouver to Agassiz. They met for fellowship and Bible study in Vancouver on Friday evenings, in Greendale/Chilliwack on Saturday afternoons and Abbotsford at Eben-Ezer every Sunday afternoon. Sylang and his family moved around, living in Vancouver two years, Yarrow one year, Chilliwack two years and then the settling in Abbotsford/Clearbrook.
The church became affiliated with the Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia (now Mennonite Church British Columbia) in 1988. The maturation and financial stability of the congregation is due largely to the shared support of Mennonite Church British Columbia and Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church.
In 2011, through the care of Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church the Lao Christian Church still continues to witness and show the love of God to Laotian Canadians in the Fraser Valley with a worship Service every Sunday afternoon and at special occasions such as weddings and funerals. The language of worship is Lao.
Lehn, Cornelia. Frontier Challenge: A Story of the Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia. Clearbrook, BC: The Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia, 1990: 139-140.
Mennonite Reporter (10 July 1995): 11.
Address: 2051 Windsor St., Abbotsford, BC V2T 6L9
Lao Christian Church Membership
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Kaneboodtra, Sylang. "Lao Christian Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2012. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L36.html.
APA style: Kaneboodtra, Sylang. (March 2012). Lao Christian Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L36.html.