Mal in Laos

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Peoples of Laos, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Mal
Country: Laos
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 38,000
World Population: 43,100
Primary Language: Mal
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 2.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.80 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Mal or Madi is the self-name of this group. The Thais and Lao commonly call them Htin or Tin, but this name is not used among themselves. The Mal are related to the Phai ethnic group of Phongsali Province, further to the north. The Phai are believed to speak the same language as the Htin in Thailand, whereas the Mal language in Laos is different.

Mal communities are located wholly within Laos' Phiang District of Xaignabouri Province, west of the Mekong River. Between 3,000 to 4,000 Mal live across the border in Thailand. In addition, a small Mal refugee community exists in northern California in the United States.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Mal are a poverty-stricken people. Their crops usually yield a poor harvest because of their slash-and-burn agricultural technique. When they come to some new land, Mal families combine to clear the land of rocks and burn down the trees. After one year the soil is depleted, the Mal move on and find some new land, where they repeat the process. They will not return to land they have already used until it has been left fallow for ten years.

The Mal prefer to marry within their own village, so often they marry their first cousins. This has led to some inbreeding. Couples live with the family of the bride until they have several children, at which time they move into their own house.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Mal are animists. Many villages have a resident shaman who conducts animistic ceremonies. There is also some Buddhist influence among the Mal in Laos.

Christian missionaries such as Don and Sally Durling and Dave and Fran Jordan ministered among the Mal in Thailand for many years. In 1992, there was a breakthrough when a shaman named Bpan followed Christ. More than 100 Mal refugees from Laos followed Bpan's decision and were baptized. In late 1993, about 300 Mal believers were among 1,200 Mal repatriated back into Laos by the Thai government.

What Are Their Needs?

The Mal people need to accept the warm embrace of the only Savior so they can enjoy spiritually meaningful lives.

Prayer Points

Pray the Mal believers in Laos would remain strong and continue to share their faith in the face of opposition.

Ask God to bless the work of missionaries among the Mal people.

Pray the Mal New Testament would be fully used among the Mal in both Laos and Thailand.

Pray for spiritual hunger among the Mal people. They need to crave the Bread of Life!

Text Source:   Joshua Project