It is January 6, 2008. It is also the Feast of the Epiphany. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration in Hao Thao, North Vietnam, Fr. Daniel Taillez, OMI, stands in the midst of some Hmong people. From the scene, one can somehow visualize a shepherd tending to its flock, ministering to its needs. And this apostolate is actualized in the Hmong Service’s radio ministry.
The Hmong Service broadcast came into fruition to serve the Hmong people who live in the low mountains of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. With the exception of Thailand, the three other countries mentioned are ruled by communist governments. Under their regimes, the Hmong Christians have been harshly persecuted.
The majority of the Hmong people are shamanists and those who have converted to Christianity are very few. The vast majority of this small group has persevered in the faith, lasting for almost four generations./
For the upkeep and growth in the faith, a radio program that shall help the Hmong listeners sustain their relationship with God has been thought out to be truly essential.
On December 1, 1994, the first Hmong radio programs went on air.
Majority of Hmong are Shamanists. They follow a religion that is based on the doctrine that the workings of good and evil spirits can be influenced only by the shamans. The Hmongs, who converted to Christianity, are few. In the countries where they live, namely China, Vietnam, and Laos, the Hmongs have been harshly persecuted. A few of them have relinquished their baptismal commitments but the vast majority of those who converted into Christianity have persevered in their faith. Christianity in this group has thrived for almost four generations now. The faith that has been sown to these people have remained strong as rock, resisting many storms that have buffeted their belief in God.
On December 1, 1994, the first Hmong radio program went on air. The pioneer of the Hmong broadcast, Fr. Yves Bertrais OMI, was then living in French Guyana. He prepared programs, entitled “The Good Shepherd” while Antoine Chiv Yang recorded them on tapes, which in turn, were sent to Radio Veritas Asia. After three years, Fr. Bertrais moved to Radio Veritas Asia in 1997. This development made work easier. Two years later, Fr. Bertrais installed the Hmong Center in Lomsak, Thailand. It was there that four members of the production staff with Fr. Bertrais prepared some of the programs. These programs were sent to Radio Veritas Asia through the internet.
For several years now, the Hmong alphabet has been taught through the broadcast. Thousands of Hmong listeners in the target area countries can now write in their own languages. In 2007, various programs that dealt with their problems and daily lives were aired. Features on the education of girls and drug addiction, drug commercialization were integrated in the program format. Topics on mutual forgiveness were also covered.
Significantly, the program on international news aired every Wednesday for 25 minutes, was well received by the listeners. They wrote and noted that they appreciated the quality of the programs of the Hmong Service.
In January 2008, the RVA Management has given the Hmong Service a better time slot for broadcast. Listeners from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam can listen better to the programs at 7:00 PM.
A new program in Green Hmong Language has been started recently and it is broadcast every Friday. The Homily for the coming Sunday is then made available to those who speak the language in Vietnam and China.
With regard to program preparation, four Hmongs from Lomsak, Thailand and Fr. Daniel Taillez OMI work hand in hand to come up with various programs everyday. In RVA, the Hmong producer is in charge of the recording.
It is the strong hope of the Hmong Service that it continues to be an instrument for the important task of evangelization as it continues in its great effort to be the “Good Shepherd for Hmong people.