The Molao of China
Most of the Molao call themselves "ling," while a small group usually calls themselves "jin" or "bendiren," meaning "locals." Ninety percent of the Molao live in the Guangxi Zhuangzu Province of south central China. Their villages are scattered throughout the narrow valleys and along the lower hills of this coal-rich region.
Long ago, the Molao had their own dress, food, and lifestyle; but now they are hardly distinguishable from the Han or Zhuang (two other people groups in China). Today, farming is their chief occupation. Glutinous ("sticky") rice is the principal crop that is grown, but maize, wheat, potatoes, peanuts, cotton, melons, and an assortment of vegetables are raised as well.
Their language, Mulam, belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family. Most Molao are bilingual, speaking Mulam as well as the local Chinese dialect; however, in this region, Chinese is the language most commonly used for written communication.
What are their lives like?
The Molao typically live in one-storied homes made with mud walls. There is usually a central room with a fire pit, and a sleeping room on either side. It is not uncommon to find that all of the families living within one village have the same surname. This is due to the fact that the households recognize common ancestry.
Within the villages, each household unit commonly consists two generations. Each household is under the authority of the father. When the sons marry, the household divides, leaving only the youngest son to live with the parents. Descent is "patrilineal," or through the father's line.
Most Molao families own oxen, water buffaloes, and, on occasion, horses for working their land. Men's duties include plowing, transporting fertilizer, and threshing grain; while the women are responsible to do all of the household chores, weave, and assist their husbands with the farming. Not all of the Molao are farmers, however. Some work as craftsmen, and one of their specialties is making beautiful pottery. Many others work as blacksmiths or as part-time peddlers.
What are their beliefs?
Religious beliefs of the Molao are rooted in an older form of animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits). Through the years, these ancient beliefs have been merged--even overshadowed by--Buddhism, Taoism, and ancestor worship (worship of deceased ancestors). They also believe that a "soul force" (yin) lives in things of nature as well as in people. Villagers rely on local priests, or "mubao," and female shamans (Buddhist priestesses) to meet the spiritual needs of the community. These "clergy" seek to be possessed by spirits so that they might gain authority. The community is also served by a number of Taoist priests and other "spiritual experts" who perform various rituals.
Gods, spirits, ancestors, and ghosts are all believed to be actively involved in human affairs. Each household usually has a special altar used for ancestral worship. Many small temples are also built for the worship of other Chinese gods. The Molao consult the spirits regularly to ensure well being, prosperity, and success, or to deal with such things as illness or calamity.
Every three to five years special ceremonies are held to pay homage to deceased ancestors and to invoke their help. During these celebrations, crowds of young villagers wearing festive clothing gather on the slopes of the hills to sing and worship. The echoes of their songs and laughter ring out over the hills.
What are their needs?
The physical needs of the Molao are numerous. The quality of health care, housing, utilities, and education in China is poor. Spiritually, however, their needs are even greater. Ethnic religions and Buddhism have blinded them from the Truth for centuries. The Bible has not yet been translated into Mulam; the Jesus Film is not available; and there are no Christian radio broadcasts in their language. Less than 2% of the Molao population are believers. They are a people who deserve the opportunity to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
- Pray against the spirits of ancestor worship, animism, and Buddhism that have kept the Molao bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Molao.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon be open to missionaries.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Molao Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Mulam.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Molao towards 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 Molao by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Molao
- Country: China
- Their language: Mulam
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 1.5%
- Church members: 2,529
- 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: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 39,600 (24%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 129,000 (76%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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