Reaching the Hmong Through the Airways
Following almost a year of living in refugee camps, Gia Tou Lee, his wife, four children, mother, and brother arrived in Wisconsin in April 1976 from their native Laos.
Lee, his wife, May Lee, and their children had no familiarity with Christianity while living in Laos. In Wisconsin, every Sunday they began attending the Lutheran church that sponsored their trip to the U.S.
“We didn’t really know what was going on when they picked us up, we just went,” says Tou Pheng Lee, 50, the Lees’ oldest son. “It took some time to accept the Christian faith.”
For the Lee family, a miracle caused them to believe the gospel. May Lee had an ulcer that she says God divinely healed.
A few years later, Gia Tou Lee says he heard a call from God to preach to the Hmong people.
Tou Pheng Lee says he experienced the same calling, and father and son worked together to form a Hmong congregation in Tennessee. They soon moved to Minnesota and joined the Assemblies of God.
Lee says the majority of Hmong people believe in animism, ancestral worship, and shamanism.
“The Hmong people live in the jungle with no doctors,” Lee says. “If someone gets sick, they call the shaman.”
In 1996, Gia Tou Lee founded the Hmong National Fellowship of the Assemblies of God and served as president. Since its formation, the Hmong Fellowship has grown to 18 churches, including one led by Tou Pheng Lee.
In 2004, Lee felt God calling him to resign from his post in the Hmong Fellowship. Lee says he sensed God telling him he needed to reach the 13 million Hmong people living around the world, not just the ones living in the U.S. Lee has been a U.S. Missions Intercultural Ministries missionary since 2004.
Still based in Minnesota, Lee began a radio broadcast called Voice of Hope that today reaches Hmong people around the world. He and May Lee work with over 100 churches internationally to reach Hmong people with the gospel. They provide materials and teachings to pastors, most of them without a formal education. The broadcasts are conducted over FM and AM radio, as well as online.
As with his own family, Lee says Hmong people often have to see God work miraculously before they believe in Jesus as Savior.
“I just preach the gospel and they call,” Lee says. “Some people are very sick or are possessed by demons. They call me and ask me to pray for them.”
Tou Pheng Lee says he has promised his 70-year-old dad that he will continue preaching to Hmong people through the radio ministry after Gia Tou Lee is gone.
“Right now we’re kind of old,” Lee says, laughing. “I will serve the Lord until He calls me home.”
Pictured: Gia Tou Lee and May Lee