In the year 2000, The United Methodist Church began to reach out to the people of Laos after decades of isolation. As a new, minority religion, United Methodism is technically illegal, and only permitted to exist at the discretion of public officials. In some villages, the Church is more accepted than others, but the identity of long-term missionaries is kept secret, and they settle in the country as teachers rather than pastors. The emphasis in ministry is on creating house churches with a long-term vision for community development.