The Men-Pa of China
More than 31,000 Men-Pa (or Monba) live along the southeastern border of China in the area known as Tibet. Nearly three centuries ago they migrated across the Himalayan Mountains and down the Yarlung River. They finally settled in the Medog, Nyinchi, and Cona regions, where they lived under a hostile, religion-dominated political system until the 1950's.
The Men-Pa are a very brave and courageous people. Their lifestyles are quite similar to the lifestyles of Tibetans, since the two groups have always maintained a close political, economical, and cultural relationship with each other. Many Tibetans actually live among the Men-Pa, and intermarriage between the them is common.
The Men-Pa also call themselves the "Monba," "Menba," and "Memba." Their language, Moinba or Mompa, is part of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan family and has several dialects. They generally use Tibetan, however, in written communication.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Men-Pa are farmers. The southern region of Tibet is a forested area with hot, humid temperatures and an abundance of rainfall. Such a climate is favorable for growing rice, corn, grain, soybeans, and sesame seeds. Grain and rice serve as staple foods for the Men-Pa; however, 70% of the grains produced are used for making wine or liquor.
While the Men-Pa enjoy eating traditional meals, they have adopted some Tibetan dishes as well. A few of their favorites include roasted barley, buttered tea, and hot, spicy foods.
Typically, the Men-Pa live in two- or three-storied wooden houses with bamboo or straw roofs. Most marriages are monogamous (having only one wife), but polygamy (multiple wives or husbands) was practiced in the past. Currently, a Men-Pa woman's status in the home is equal to that of a man's.
The Men-Pa are a very social people, known for their hospitality. They have a great love for music, singing, and dancing. Most of them are able to play the traditional bamboo flute, a short thick instrument with four finger holes. Some of the Men-Pa craftsmen plait elegant bamboo and rattan (a type of palm) items. Their silversmiths are skillful in designing bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and other ornaments. The women are also known for their weaving abilities.
China's economy has undergone many changes since the late 1970's. Free markets for food items and homemade goods have re-opened, resulting in a higher standard of living for those in inner China. However, since most of the minority groups (including the Men-Pa) live in remote areas, improvements in their living conditions have been few.
What are their beliefs?
Buddhism was first introduced to the Chinese by Indian monks between the third and first centuries BC. Buddhism can be divided into four main branches, one of which is Lamaism. Lamaistic Buddhism was developed in Tibet and then spread among the Mongols and other minority groups in the Southwest.
The majority of Men-Pa are Tantrayana (Lamaistic) Buddhists; however, some still maintain their traditional shamanistic practices. (Shamanism is a belief in unseen gods, demons, and "ancestral spirits.") "Shamans," or Buddhist priests use magic to cure the sick. The Men-Pa have three methods of "burying" their dead: water burial, sky burial (burial in a tree), and cremation.
What are their needs?
The physical needs of the Men-Pa are numerous. The quality of health care, housing, utilities, and education is poor. Spiritually, the needs are even greater. Buddhism has blinded them from the Truth for centuries, and past attempts at evangelization have failed. The Bible has not yet been translated into Moinba, the Jesus Film is not available, and there are no Christian radio broadcasts in their language. There are only 6 known Men-Pa believers and no missions agencies working among them.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Men-Pa bound.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Men-Pa.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the six known Men-Pa Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into each dialect of the Moinba language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Men-Pa 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 Men-Pa by the year 2000.
See also the following Group:
The Tibetans in China.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Men-Pa
- Country: China
- Their language: moinba
- Largest religion: Buddhists (Tantrayana (Lamaism)) 99%
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 6
- 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: None
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 2,200 (3.1%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 29,600 (93%)
- 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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