The Lasi of China
The Lasi live in southwestern China, in the western region of the mountainous Yunnan province. The Lasi, also known as the Lashi, Lachikwaw, Chashan, and Ac-ye, are officially classified under the Jingpo minority, one of China's 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. The Lasi language is a dialect of Jingpo; however, it cannot be understood by speakers of other Jingpo dialects.
The Lasi and other Jingpo peoples originally lived on the Tibetan Plateau. They gradually migrated into northern Yunnan, continuing to move farther south and west toward Burma. Today, there are more Jingpo in Burma than in China.
The Lasi have a long history as valiant warriors. Although they have not been forced to fight for many years, nearly all of the men continue to wear the traditional two foot long swords. Their unique swords have become a major identifying symbol of the Jingpo people and their culture.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The majority of the Lasi continue to live much as their ancestors did for hundreds of years; most of them are farmers. The wet rice farmers grow rice on terraces cut into the steep mountainsides. They use water buffaloes to pull plows and till up the soil. Fresh spring water irrigates the fields naturally. The other farmers use the "slash and burn" cultivation method. Sections of forest or grassland are cut down, the debris is burned, and the crops are planted in the scorched clearings. These farmers grow a great variety of crops, including dry rice, corn, millet, soybean, and potatoes. Because forests and grassland areas have been severely depleted, this method of agriculture has declined in importance.
Unlike most other people groups of China, the Jingpo value their daughters as highly as they do their sons. Young men and women are allowed to date and flirt extensively, and pre-marital relations are common; however, parents usually arrange the marriages.
The Lasi and other Jingpo groups have four types of marriage: wife stealing, engagement, wife snatching, and wife seizing. Wife stealing is the most common. In such cases, the man "kidnaps" the bride. In reality, however, both families have already agreed to the marriage. In an engagement, a young woman is engaged to be married at a young age, but does not actually marry until she is older. Wife snatching occurs when a young man actually kidnaps and marries a woman who has refused his love. In some cases, such as wife seizing, a man may actually take another man's wife or fiancée for his own. Regardless of the method, all men are required to pay a bride price to the bride's family.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Lasi beliefs are dominated by a view that there are hosts of spirits, or nats, that inhabit the world. The Lasi believe that all spirits were once mortals who were endowed with spiritual power when they died. The spirits are said to dominate the affairs of this world, bring illness or health, and determine an individual's destiny. The nats are disagreeable in nature and are always ready to take revenge on people who do not properly consult and worship them. Besides their traditional beliefs, the Lasi have also incorporated Confucian and Buddhist principles.
What Are Their Needs?
Although the lives of the Lasi have improved since the Communist revolution of 1949, they continue to live in poverty as farmers and livestock owners. More recently, China has witnessed dramatic economic development. However, much of the new investment is in the major cities and focused on industry and trade. In the outlying areas, progress has been slow and the villagers lives have changed little. While education is adequate, services such as electricity, running water, and sanitation are not. Their lack of an adequate infrastructure makes it difficult for them to break the cycle of traditional livelihood and lifestyle.
Even greater than their physical needs are their spiritual ones. Although other Jingpo groups have responded to the Gospel, very few of the Lasi have accepted Christ.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into China to share God's love with the Lasi.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Lasi through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Lasi believers boldness to share Christ with their people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Lasi bound in their traditional belief system.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Lasi church for the glory of His name!
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Lasi.
- Ask the Lord to save key Lasi leaders who will boldly declare the Gospel.
See also the following Group:
The Hill Tribes of Myanmar
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Lasi
- Country: China
- Their language: lashi (letsi)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 36
- 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: 3,300 (9%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 32,700 (91%)
- 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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