by Grace, DTS student
I’m so excited to introduce you to a people group called the “Loy Paloo.” They live near the base of the mountains where we are in Thailand, close to the strawberry fields where they work for long hours and little pay. Their shack houses are scattered along a dusty road, flanked by mountain vistas and lush green plants. These people don’t have much — in fact, some might say they don’t have anything at all. But while I was with them, I saw they have each other, they have a strong work ethic, and they have radiant smiles that speak a thousand words.
Little is known about this people group that is still unreached by the gospel. (An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.1) Though originally from Burma, the Loy live within Thailand as well. Our ministry contacts in Thailand told us that there are only about 4,000 of the Loy in the world, and they live in just twelve villages. As far as we know, none of these people are Christians. I’m excited our team is among the first to teach them about Christ.
But these are just statistics about a people group who have captured my heart completely. I want to introduce you to a few of the people themselves.
The last few Saturdays, our team met up with a number of the Loy children at a nearby Bible camp. These children are mostly unattended during the day while their parents work in the strawberry fields. We brought them games to play, crafts to make, and plenty of food to eat.
At the start of our program, we laid woven mats on the concrete. The kids kicked off their worn and dusty shoes before they scampered onto the mats. Their big brown eyes glittered with laughter at our skits. The crafts were a big hit, too. I could see how happy they were to play and how grateful they were for the food. They are kids, after all.
One tiny boy stood out to me in particular. He clung shyly to the basketball stand, hanging back from the other kids and from us. When he laughed, he laughed quietly, almost to himself. But his hesitating smile, his big eyes, and his long lashes endeared him to me. When he smiled, it was like the world stopped and the sun grew jealous that someone would outshine it.
I convinced him to join the group and sat with him on the mat, helping him with his craft.
“What is your name?” my friend asked him.
“Samboon,” he said.
Samboon didn’t say anything else that afternoon, but he wore his craft proudly on his head, like it was a crown instead of a sheep puppet.
We brought milk and juice to a family who lived in one of the houses along the road. The father had been in a motorcycle accident and was recovering from brain surgery. It was a miracle he survived and, only 10 days after surgery, was already up and about, even helping his wife work.
I met an elderly woman at the house. Deep wrinkles lined her wise eyes. We couldn’t speak, but it was okay. She placed her hand on my knee and we smiled, hers cracked and crooked, mine awkward and uncertain. But that’s okay too. Her face looked so full of joy and contentedness. She seemed like royalty to me. My heart melted and I wanted to give her a huge hug. What stories and wisdom might she tell if I could only ask?
These are the Loy people. They are quiet and few. They make me happy. I wish you could meet them. I wish you could see the children running through the green plants and on the dusty paths outsides their homes by the mountains, shrieking with delight as we play chase with them. I wish you could see how beautiful the big hills are. And I wish you could see how beautiful the people are who dwell there, too.