Khu Faj was born and raised in a small village in Laos. Her family were animists, and her father was a witch doctor. In 1993, Khu Faj and her family emigrated to California as Hmong refugees, and she became a United States citizen. Many Hmong fled Laos because they were being killed for siding with the United States during the Vietnam War, so the United States welcomed them and helped them become American citizens. She moved to Wisconsin about 16 years ago.
Khu Faj married and had several children, but in time, her husband died. She married another man, but as the spirits of her deceased husband still lived in her house, this new husband’s children took him away and have not allowed Khu Faj and him to be together.
In 2010, Kau Faj’s father died, and as is common in the animist world, his spirits came into her and told her she would now be a witch doctor as her father had been. Khu Faj was not happy about this. The spirits are very controlling, and required her to do many things she did not want to do. There are many curses and fears in the animist belief, and whenever people are sick or are seeking relief from a curse, they come to a witch doctor, such as Khu Faj, and she is required to make a sacrifice to the spirits for them. Usually this means killing a chicken and offering it up to appease the spirits in order to bring some relief. While witch doctors are most commonly male, females are at times chosen by the spirits as well, and she said there are many many witch doctors here in the United States.
Not long ago, Kau Faj became quite ill. As witch doctors cannot offer sacrifices for themselves, she needed to find help. She decided to see a regular medical doctor, but while he recognized her symptoms were real, he could find nothing wrong with her. His advise to her was, “You need to see a pastor.”
Kau Faj did not know a pastor to go see, but God knew her need and provided. Walking down the sidewalk near her home, Kau Faj met a neighbor and during the course of their visit told her what the doctor had suggested. “I know my pastor would be very happy to come visit with you,” said her neighbor. The neighbor, Maitha Thao, was a Seventh-day Adventist and made arrangements for Pastor Chanchai Kiatyanyong to come visit and pray for her.
Pastor Chanchai is a lay pastor in the Wisconsin Conference for the Milwaukee and Madison Hmong Seventh-day Adventist church groups. He has a first-hand understanding of the animist religion, as his father was also a witch doctor. Pastor Chanchai came to Kau Faj’s home, prayed with her, and her illness immediately disappeared. Kau Faj was very impressed with the superior power of this Christian God over the spirits she knew about. She asked Pastor Chanchai if he could help her learn to be a Christian and study the Adventist faith with her.
This past fall Kau Faj began attending the Hmong Adventist Group in Milwaukee and expressed a desire to leave the spirit worship behind. On December 29, 2019, a group of about 10 people from the Milwaukee Adventist Hmong Group came to her house with Pastor Chanchai and Pastor Mike Edge, to cleanse her home of the spirits and dedicate her home to Jesus. While part of the group kept up a steady chorus of hymn singing, the rest of the group burned the shrine, cut up bamboo poles and boards, hauled out carpet, and anything else pertaining to spirit worship. Then they went to the basement to pray as well. Whenever the dog would go to the basement he would bark continuously. They believe the dog could see the spirits that lived there.
In place of the shrine, they placed a picture of Jesus, and below it Pastor Chunchai hung a picture roll. As Kau Faj cannot read in Hmong or English, Pastor Chunchai and his wife are meeting with Kau Faj in her home every evening at 6:00 pm to study the Bible and Adventist beliefs through the spoken word and will use the picture roll as a pictorial guide in helping her understand the scriptures. There are quite a few Hmong people who come to Kau Faj for her witch doctor services, and she is hoping to share with them about her new faith in Jesus. When the house was completely cleansed and dedicated to God, Pastor Chunchai told Kau Faj she needed to choose a new name now that she is a Christian. Kau Faj chose the name Pa Chia, which means New Flower
“Since coming to the Adventist Church I have found so much happiness,” said Pa Chia. “I’m so happy I don’t have words to express. I am so grateful that even though I am very old, Jesus still wants to help me.” Her plan is to be baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist at the end of her studies, and join the Milwaukee Adventist Hmong Group.
Juanita Edge, Communication Director