In 1980, Grantham Mennonite Brethren Church in St. Catharines, Ont., sponsored me to come to Canada. I had been living in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand, for a year after fleeing Laos due to communism and civil war. When I arrived in Canada, the Mennonite Church warmly welcomed me, although I did not speak English very well. At that time I discovered that there was a small community of Laotian Christians at the St. Catharines Mennonite Church and my journey to Christ began with this congregation.
I built a strong foundation, and accepted the body of Christ into my life and was baptized in 1982 in St. Catharines. I was fully committed to love and learn more about God who gave me a chance to establish my life, and a chance to become a faithful Christian. I wanted to become a leader and help other Laotians accept Christ into their lives, so I decided to continue studying the word of God.
In 1988 I attended a Theology Education by Extension (TEE) training course in Toronto, Ont., and obtained a Certificate in Theology in 1991. In 1995 I was installed by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada as a pastor of the first Lao Christian Fellowship Church in St. Catharines. I was very excited to see our congregation grow and was blessed with this position. In 1998 I was ordained by MCEC and continued to be the pastor at the Lao Christian Mennonite Church.
In 2014, I decided to return to Nongkhai, Thailand, where my story began, and I worked as a missionary at the Gennesaret Church, teaching and volunteering to help children and youth read the Bible.
In 2015, my wife and I returned to Canada, this time to Regina, Sask., to live with my son. We joined Grace Mennonite Church, where I continue to serve God. I feel connected and welcome in this communion and also with the Laotian community in Saskatchewan. I was given the opportunity to preach in the Lao language once a month at Grace Mennonite, and I teach Sunday school in the Lao language once a week as well.
The Mennonite community in Canada has always helped and encouraged me to connect to other Christians. I have been blessed with many different roles in my journey with Mennonite Church Canada.
I believe it is important to stress commitment and continuous learning of the word of God and body of MC Canada. In order to build relationships and to grow as a church, this requires a strong foundation. My goal is to offer my knowledge and my experiences to build a strong foundation with the church, and to educate our youth to be leaders in the future. I hope that we can branch out to other families and preach the word of God.
Khamphong Phommaseng is a deacon, Sunday school teacher and worship leader at Grace Mennonite Church in Regina, Sask.