Luangamaths retire from active duty
by Joanne Louangamath, Captain –
Following 19 years of faithful service to The Salvation Army, Majors Bounmy and Manivene Luangamath have retired from active duty.
Bounmy Luangamath was born in Vientiane, Laos. The country’s tumultuous atmosphere influenced him and he became a notorious gang leader directing over 500 members. God, however, had better things in store for him.
Later he met Manivene Insixiengmay, from Savannakhet, Laos. The two married in 1974. Both graduated from the University of LaosBounmy with a B.A. in Social Studies and Psychology and a minor in Education; Manivene with a B.A. and M.A. in Frenchand they taught high school math, English, and various other subjects.
The Luangamaths had three children Neil, Kathy, and Tom before deciding to leave Laos because of the rise of communism.
The family escaped Laos in 1980 and remained at a refugee concentration camp in Thailand for six months. From there they moved to the Philippines for another six months. In Morong Bataan, Philippines, Bounmy came to know The Salvation Army through the captain who assisted them with basic necessities and spiritual hope. Bounmy volunteered his time with The Salvation Army and later accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. During this time, the Luangamath family had another daughter, Patty.
One year later, the Luangamaths moved to the U.S., settling in Santa Rosa, Calif. They became involved with The Salvation Army there, under the leadership of then Majors Roger and Svea Malmberg. The couple enrolled as soldiers and Bounmy worked as a janitor and driver. Eventually they moved to Seattle, Wash., where Bounmy became an envoy and director for The Salvation Army’s Southeast Asian Service Center and Outpost.
In 1989, the Luangamaths became auxiliary captains and established the Army’s first Laotian corps. For this, Bounmy received the Frontiersmen of the Year award in 1993 (now called Trailblazer of the Year). Their ministry to the Laotian people flourished in the U.S. and Canada.
The Luangamaths served The Salvation Army in Seattle, Wash., Philadelphia, Pa., and Santa Fe Springs, Calif. They spent furlough time traveling to Laos as witnesses for God in what is still a communist country. These visits allowed thousands to hear the gospel, resulting in nearly 500 people accepting Christ.
Now entering retirement, the Luangamaths continue to hope that one day The Salvation Army’s ministry will be established in their native land.