The Hakka of China
The 30 million Hakka are part of the Han Chinese, a majority people group in China. The Hakka are widely scattered throughout China's southeastern provinces. They are descendants of northern Chinese groups that migrated south between the fourth and the eighteenth centuries. Because they were newcomers to the area, they were forced to inhabit land that was less desirable. Their name, Hakka, means "guest people" or "sojourner."
The Hakka are very proud and family-oriented. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, land in southern China became quite scarce and living conditions worsened. This caused feuds over the control of land and water with the Cantonese, the original inhabitants of the area. As the conflicts continued, many Hakka relocated in other countries. Today, Hakka can be found in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Australia and numerous other nations.
What are their lives like?
The Hakka are regarded as very conservative, honest, hardworking, and independent. They belong to a very distinct group of people, and have been careful to maintain their native customs and traditions.
Hakka women are much more liberated than other Chinese women. The poverty and mobility of the group demand that women be more self-reliant than most Chinese women. They also play a major role in cultivating the fields. Hakka women never practiced "foot-binding," a custom that for centuries reduced many Chinese women to stylish cripples.
Although the Hakka language, Kejia, contains elements from both Mandarin and Cantonese, it has remained distinct. Most Hakka are bilingual, speaking both Mandarin (the official language of mainland China) and Kejia.
Due to hostile relations with the other groups in the area, the Hakka traditionally built fortress-like dwellings. These three- or four-storied houses had walls nearly three feet thick. They were made of adobe or pounded earth fortified with lime. Although most Hakka continue to live in poor rural areas, some now also live in urban, cosmopolitan regions.
Traditionally, marriages were arranged. To the Hakka, marriage includes the transfer of the bride from her family to her husband's family. There, she becomes a part of his household and ancestral line. A traditional family includes a husband and wife, their unmarried daughters, and their married sons with their wives and children.
Festivals traditionally observed by the Hakka include common Chinese celebrations such as the Lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival. The Hakka are particularly known for their love of folk songs that include themes of hard work, poverty, love, and relationships.
What are their beliefs?
Most Chinese Hakka still practice ancestor worship, believing that the spirits of deceased ancestors are alive and need to be fed and cared for. These spirits are said to become hungry and dissatisfied when they are not properly appeased, turning into evil spirits. The Hakka build ancestral halls, where their ancestors are represented by individual "soul tablets" placed on the altar. At least twice a month, offerings of food, drinks, and incense are made to these ancestors. Such sacrifices are also made at significant events such as engagements, marriages, graduations, and before long journeys.
Most Hakka are involved in shamanism (belief in gods, demons, ancestral spirits) and sorcery. Shamans (witchdoctors or mediums) help to contact the spirits of the deceased. A few Hakka are Buddhists, but their faith is heavily mixed with shamanistic rituals and traditions.
What are their needs?
Although the complete Bible and the Jesus film are already available in their language, there are very few Christians among the Hakka. Perhaps their strong independence is a barrier to their acceptance of Christ.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Hakka bound.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Hakka.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to encourage and protect the small number of Hakka Christians.
- Pray that the Hakka living in other countries will come to know Jesus as their Savior, then return to China with the Good News.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Hakka 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 Hakka by the year 2000.
See also the following Han Chinese Groups:
The Diaspora Han Chinese; The Hainanese of China; The Hunanese of China; and
the Han Chinese (Nung) of China.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Hakka
- Country: China
- Their language: kejia
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 150,111
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 4
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 15,461,500 (52%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 14,560,700 (48%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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