Prayer Profile
The Nakhi of China

[IMAGE] The Nakhi (also known as the Naxi) are one of China's minority people groups. They have a population of nearly 295,000. Most of the Nakhi live in the mountainous part of the Yunnan Province, which is located in the southwestern region of China. Many of them live in the large city of Lijiang.

China's languages are classified into four major linguistic families, and the Nakhi belong to the Sino-Tibetan group. It is not uncommon to find those among the Nakhi who can fluently speak two or three languages. Their native language is called Naxi or Nahsi, and the children are also taught Mandarin Chinese at school. A majority of the Nakhi can both read and write Chinese.

The lives of the Nakhi changed greatly when China became a communist nation in 1949. Originally, they were nomadic herdsmen, traveling through Central China and living in felt tents. Later they were forced to move farther south, where they eventually settled and became farmers. The Nakhi still enjoy hunting, but it is no longer their main source of food.

What are their lives like?
Nakhi villages consist of closely clustered domestic compounds (walled courtyards enclosing a house and a stable). Traditional houses are made of logs, with slats weighted down by stones for roofs. The compounds are surrounded by vegetable gardens and orchards; and further out, by fields of grain and other staple crops. The villages can vary in size, depending on the quality of the land and availability of water for irrigation. The crops they grow also vary, depending on their range in elevation and temperature. People living in the lowlands generally grow wet rice and vegetables, whereas highlanders grow mostly wheat, maize, and legumes. Those in the highest elevations raise mostly turnips and potatoes. They also raise animals such as pigs, oxen, water buffaloes, chickens, and ducks.

Traditionally, the Nakhi preferred marrying their cousins. These marriages were arranged by the parents when the children were quite young. Today, however, young people are allowed to choose their own mates.

What are their beliefs?
For many years the ancient Dongba faith was the religion of the Nakhi. Dongba is a mixture of shamanism (belief in an unseen world of gods, demons, and ancestral spirits) and the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet known as Bon. Today, however, very few people observe the practices of Dongba. Neither do they hold to the Communistic beliefs of their parents' generation. A few people still hold yearly Dongba celebrations in the city, but only out of tradition, not out of allegiance to the ancient religion. Most Nakhi do not have any religious preferences at all. It is interesting to know, however, that many of them do believe in a creator; they simply are not sure who he is.

Prior to 1949, the first Christian missionaries reached out to the Nakhi. The story is told that God had sent them there with gifts of candy and great news. The missionaries invited the Nakhi to meetings where they not only gave them candy, but also shared with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Nakhi came to the Lord at that time and a strong church was planted among them. There were hundreds of Christians and much missions activity...until the communists took over China in 1949. Many Nakhi Christians were put to death because of their new-found faith in Jesus Christ. Today those horrible memories still linger in the minds of the older generation.

What are their needs?
On February 3, 1996, the Yunnan Province of China (where the Nakhi are located) experienced a devastating earthquake. The city of Lijiang sustained most of the damage. Some 300 people died, up to 15,000 were injured, and about 300,000 became homeless. Many of their homes had collapsed, and others evacuated their homes for fear that they might collapse during the aftershocks. These people have been forced to sleep out in the streets where temperatures are below freezing.

There are currently no Christian radio or television broadcasts available for the Nakhi. Only portions of the Bible have been translated into the Naxi language. Fearful memories of Christians being persecuted for their faith may hinder the older people from accepting the Gospel.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Nahki bound.
  • Ask God to raise up qualified linguists to finish translating the Bible into the Naxi language.
  • Pray that the doors to China will soon be opened to missionaries so that the Gospel can be preached freely to the Nahki.
  • Pray that God will raise up Christian relief workers to help meet the needs created by the recent earthquake. Pray that they will have open doors to share the Gospel with these hurting people.
  • Ask the Lord to provide shelter for those who lost their homes in the earthquake. Pray that they will begin to call on God for help during their time of need.
  • Pray that Christian literature, radio broadcasts, and television programs will soon be made available in their area.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Nahki people by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Nakhi
  • Country: China
  • Their language: naxi
  • Population: (1990) 278,300
    (1995) 294,200
    (2000) 309,500
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionists 80%
    Buddhists 10%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 2,942
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions
  • 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: 67,700 (23%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 20,600 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 47,100 (16%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 226,500 (77%)


  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990) 1,135,043,400
    (1995) 1,199,901,200
    (2000) 1,262,195,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese folk-religionists 17%
    Atheists 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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