Prayer Profile
The Lu of China

[IMAGE] The Lu of China belong to the official Dai minority and live along the valleys of the Mekong River, an area located in the southernmost part of the Yunnan Province. Their tonal language belongs to the southwestern group of Tai languages. China is the original homeland of the Lu, but there are also significant Lu communities in the countries of Laos, Thailand, and Burma (Myanmar).

Many Lu fled to Burma and northern Thailand during World War II when the establishment of a Communist regime ended the Lu kingdom. During the Korean War (1950-1953), there was an embargo on the sale of rubber to China. Since the Yunnan Province proved to be one of the more suitable areas for its growth, there was a massive migration of Han Chinese into that area, reducing the percentage of Lu. Later, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1965-1976), more than 60 million people, including many Lu, were sent to settle the borderlands.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Lu are farmers living in river valleys. There, they grow wet rice for consumption and sale. Other crops such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco are also grown. They still use primitive, wooden equipment drawn by buffalo. Many of their villages have community fish ponds where they are allotted shares in the catch.

Lu villages are located either on raised ground surrounded by rice fields, or on high ground on either side of a road or pathway. Their bamboo or timber houses are built on stilts with tiled or shingled roofs.

Traditionally, each village had its own forest land. However, much of this land was acquired by the government for rubber plantations, thus depriving the villages. Some rubber is cultivated by Lu farmers, but most is grown on state plantations where many Han Chinese are employed. Since 1985, each household has been allotted land with contracts to repay specified amounts to the government over a five year period. In an attempt to compete with state factories, individual villagers have recently set up equipment for such occupations as milling rice and making noodles

There are markets everywhere, and many areas rotate markets every five days. Although most of the Han Chinese traders are men, most of the Lu merchants are women. However, under Communist rule, their village officials have always been men. The heaviest tasks are confined to men, and the cultivation of vegetables is done by women.

Village populations range in size from 400 to 600 people. The Lu are only permitted to marry people within their own group. Premarital sexual relations seem to be accepted among the Lu. Once a couple is married, their living arrangements are decided according to which household most needs the services of the couple. Many Lu homes contain more than one family.

Today, Lu children attend state elementary schools where they may be taught Tai as well as Chinese.

What are their beliefs?
Eighty percent of the Lu practice ethnic religions. Thravada Buddhism is often mixed with folk animism. They believe that non-human objects have spirits, and that people have multiple souls. They also believe that there are "territorial spirits," which are identified with different levels of society. In addition, they practice ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for guidance). They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with religious chants, rituals, and sacrifices.

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the Buddhist temples were destroyed. However, today the ancient beliefs and practices of the Lu are beginning to flourish again.

What are their needs?
There is only one missions agency currently targeting the Lu of China. Although they have a translation of the New Testament, there is still a great need for Christian radio and television broadcasts to be made available in their language. Missionaries are needed to live and work among the Lu so that they might see God's power in Jesus' name.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Lu bound.
  • Pray that China will soon open its doors to missionaries.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Lu towards Christians.
  • Pray that God will call out prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask God to raise up long-term workers to live among the Lu.
  • Pray that the Lu believers will be bold witnesses for Christ among their own people.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Pray that Christian radio and television broadcasts will be made available in their language.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Lu by the year 2000.

See also the following Lu Groups:
The Lu of Laos; The Lu of Myanmar; The Lu of Thailand.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Lu
  • Country: China
  • Their language: lu
  • Population: (1990) 250,300
    (1995) 264,600
    (2000) 278,300
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist (Polytheist) 80%
    Buddhist 18%
  • Christians: 2%
  • Church members: 5,292
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • 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: 66,100 (25%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 21,200 (8%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 44,900 (17%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 198,500 (75%)
  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990)1,135,043,000
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
    Han Chinese (Hunanese) 3.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese Folk Religionist 17%
    Atheist 12.7%
    Christian 7.5%
    Buddhist 5.3%
    Muslim 2.4%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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