Distance Education Fosters Ministry to Hmong People

by Sandy Wood

Dr. Lang Yang’s story highlights how a flexible, non-traditional route to ordination is expanding the ethnic diversity within the LCMS and supporting the leaders of immigrant churches in using their knowledge of language and culture to spread the Gospel.

Yang, 42, is of Hmong origin. He was born in Laos and immigrated to the U.S. by way of Thailand when he was 11. He now serves Hmong ministries at St. Michael Lutheran Church, Richville, Mich., and Our Savior Lutheran Church, Lansing, as well as with the Michigan District. He also does mission work in Thailand and is a leader in Hmong ministry nationally.

Since becoming a Christian in 1976, Yang said he always felt that God had called him to go and preach the Gospel of Christ. Twice, he says, he answered that calling with “No.”

“Then in 2004, I heard God call again,” Yang recalls. “He said, ‘Follow Me.’”

He enrolled in the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) program of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, through a collaborative arrangement with LCMS World Mission. The distance-education program delivers courses via the Internet with discussion on-line and via e-mail. Students also meet regularly with a local pastor-mentor assigned by the seminary.

The EIIT curriculum allows students to stay in their home ministries, with an annual seminar on the Concordia campus. It allowed Yang to continue his work with Hmong people while pursuing his studies.

“I thank God for EIIT,” Yang says. “The most significant part of the program is that the professors at the seminary give you the coursework, and you are already in the field. You get the hands-on training, with the support of your mentor, who guides you with proper Lutheran doctrine and theology.”

Yang also does mission work in Southeast Asia through the Hmong Mission Society in partnership with LCMS World Mission. They are planting churches and training pastors in Laos and Cambodia, as well as Thailand.

“During my visits to Thailand, I trained the students from different villages who want to become a pastor and those who want to hear the Good News of Christ,” Yang says. “I baptized those who received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is an amazing thing to know that some of the Hmong people finally get to know Christ, and through Him they are being saved.”

About the author: An award-winning reporter and editor, Sandy Wood is a member of Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo.

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