The Nhang of China
About 200 years ago, thousands of Nhang emigrated from China to
Vietnam; however, many remained in their homeland. Today, more than 2.2 million Nhang live in the Yunnan province of southern China. They inhabit the remote mountains and valleys that lie along the border of Vietnam. The Nhang are officially included in the Zhuang minority people group. They are mostly farmers whose culture has been modified as a result of contact with the surrounding peoples.
Over the years, the Nhang in China were reduced in number and forced into the hills by migrating Chinese. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1965-1976), more than 60 million people were forced to move to the countryside and settle the borderlands for economic reasons. In general, the Nhang are ambitious, strong, and industrious people. Their way of life is difficult and they are often faced with hardships. These conditions have caused them to become a rugged people.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Nhang are primarily peasant farmers who live in remote, isolated mountain villages. Very few have moved into the cities and participate in major trade, even though new road construction projects are allowing more accessibility. The Nhang farmers reside in the high mountain terraces. They live in village settlements of ten to twelve farmsteads. Each village has its own headman, although some settlements have chosen to live under the dominion of a neighboring group. The peasant farmers of this region endure extremely cold winters, very hot summers, and often face natural disasters. Their principal crops include rice, maize, indigo, sugar, and cotton.
Chinese shops are located in the market towns and Chinese merchants frequently visit the villages. The Nhang take advantage of this since their own handicrafts are poorly developed, aside from the weaving of a few bamboo household items.
The basic unit of Nhang society is the family, which is patriarchal (male dominated) in nature and small in size. According to tradition, a Nhang woman has three people to whom she must submit: her father before marriage, her husband, then her son after her husband's death.
Immediate family members usually live, eat, and farm together. Both men and women plow, harrow, fish, cook, tend to the children, clean house, and wash clothes. Although marriages were arranged in the past, young people are now free to choose their own marriage partners. A newlywed couple may live with the girl's family until they are able to establish their own separate home.
The Nhang men in some areas have adopted Chinese dress; however, the women continue wearing their traditional, fanned out skirts, which cover their knees.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Nhang practice traditional ethnic religions in which they worship a multitude of gods and spirits. Many participate in ancestor worship, which involves praying to their deceased ancestors for guidance and protection. Many families have small shrines and altars in their homes where food offerings are brought to appease the ancestral spirits. Many of the Nhang are also animists (believe that non-living objects have spirits). Religious ceremonies include the Nhang's original folklore, music, dances, decorative arts, and oral literature.
The Nhang view the world as having three stages: the middle stage, which is life on earth; the stage of heaven, which is to be magnificent and glorious; and the stage underneath, which is believed to be cramped and shameful.
What Are Their Needs?
Among the more than two million Nhang living in China, there are only a few thousand Christiansóless than 3% of their population. Since China is presently closed to Christian missionaries, there are no missions agencies working among them. The Nhang do not yet have the Bible, the Jesus film, or any Christian broadcasts in their language. There is a need for evangelistic materials, Christian laborers, and intercessors to stand in the gap for these precious people.
- Pray that the bamboo curtain will be torn down so that the Gospel may be freely preached among the Nhang and other people groups in China.
- Ask the Lord to prepare missionaries to go into China and share the message of salvation.
- Ask God to give the Nhang believers opportunities to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Nhang language.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of Chinese governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Nhang bound.
- Ask God to raise up teams of intercessors who will stand in the gap for these precious people.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Nhang by the year 2000.
See also the following Groups:
The Nhang of Vietnam; The Thai Nung of Southeast Asia; and The Zhuang of China.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Nhang
- Country: China
- Their language: nhang (yay)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 2.5%
- Church members: 5,535
- 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: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 43,200 (20%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 178,200 (80%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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