Historical Sketch: Lao Christian Church

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 & Dorothy Giesbrecht, and Eben-Ezer members Peter & 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 November 6, 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 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.



Lao Christian Church Membership

Year Members

1983 13

1988 28

1992 31

1998 31

2000 31

2006 42

2010 42