The She of China
The She are scattered across the highlands of China's southeastern provinces of Fujian, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Guangdong. They call themselves Shanha, which means "guests living in the mountains." The unusual hill formations in this area of southern China have been the subject of paintings and poetry for many centuries. Their proximity to the East China Sea brings a warm, humid, productive climate for agriculture.
Lacking any written language of their own, the She have relied on songs and oral narratives to preserve their identity and history as a people. Their most important legend, "The Song of Emperor Gao Xin," provides a myth establishing their social origins. Only the She living in the Guangdong province have managed to preserve their inherent language, legends, customs, habits, and costumes.
The She only have four surnames: Pan, Lai, Lan, and Zhong, which mark their four major ancestral lines.
What are their lives like?
She families live in small rural villages that are distributed across southeastern China. Communities range in size from as many as forty households to as few as three or four. Most settlements lie in the river valleys and are surrounded and outnumbered by Han Chinese towns. She communities are compact, and are often protected by barricades.
Since the fertile soil and accommodating climate make the region almost perfect for farming, most of the She are engaged in agriculture. Rice, sweet potatoes, and wheat are among their principal crops. Timber, bamboo, and famous teas are grown in the mountainous areas.
The She have skillfully designed irrigated terraces along the hillsides to increase their farming productivity. This technique has enabled them to add peaches, pears, and other fruits to their yield.
In addition to farming, the She manage several small scale rice mills and tea processing plants. Some labor in regional mines, helping to extract ores such as coal, iron, gold, and copper. Hunting is also important.
The She are especially noted for their bamboo weaving and embroidery. Women adorn their clothing with colorful silks and cottons threaded into geometric patterns as well as plant and animal designs. Cloud and star themes are often woven into bamboo hats trimmed with strings of beads.
What are their beliefs?
In China, ancestor worship has long been a key religious practice. Three times a year the She pay respects to their ancestors. They believe that when family members die, they join the spirit world and are possess the ability to help or harm people in the living world. The She trust in their ancestors for both prosperity and survival. For this reason, ancestral spirits are viewed with a mixture of fear, awe, and respect.
In addition to ancestral spirits, the She also believe in other ghosts and gods, whom they worship regularly. They rely on shamans (medicine men or witchdoctors) to communicate with the spirits and cure diseases.
A number of She are practicing Mahayana Buddhists. They teach that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (a state of eternal bliss) at death. They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with religious chants, rituals, and sacrifices. They also believe in a continuing cycle of death and rebirth, or reincarnation.
Mahayana Buddhists emphasize the existence of many buddhas, or "enlightened ones." They often focus their attention on the buddhas in heaven and on those who will become buddhas in the future. They believe that these buddhas are able to save people through grace and compassion.
What are their needs?
The greatest needs among the She are truly spiritual. No scriptures have been translated into their language, nor are any Christian broadcasts available to them. They must be told that salvation cannot be earned, but is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ alone.
- Take authority over the spirits of ancestor worship, shamanism, and Buddhism that have kept the She bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the She.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of She Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the She language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the She toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the She by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: She
- Country: China
- Their language: She (Huo, Luofu)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 0%
- Church members: 0
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 208,800 (32%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 458,300 (68%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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