The Flowery Meo of China
The Flowery Meo belong to a large Chinese ethnic minority known as the Meo, Miao, or Hmong. There are nearly 9,000,000 Meo worldwide, with large numbers in China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The Flowery Meo live primarily in the mountainous regions of southeastern China. Their language, Miao Hwa, is unintelligible to other Meo peoples.
Although the Meo originally lived in the valleys of central China, centuries of oppressive governments eventually pushed them farther south and higher into the mountains. Meo groups were dispersed and isolated from one another, giving rise to great variations in language, dress, and customs.
Styles and art work in Meo clothing include geometric patterns, vivid colors, native birds, and flowers. These vary from village to village and are usually the distinction for the different Meo group names, such as Hua ("Flowery") Meo and He ("Black") Meo.
What are their lives like?
The Flowery Meo are friendly, affectionate people who enjoy festivals and entertaining guests. They are very clan-oriented, hospitable, and caring toward one another. Their villages are close knit communities, often made up of one or two clans. Festivals provide opportunities for young people to meet possible mates from other villages. Extended families usually live together under one roof in wooden "hanging houses" that stand on stilts against the mountain side.
Traditionally, the Meo derived their livelihood from what they could find in the mountains, forests, and rivers. Their existence has been a difficult one. They now farm collectively and are beginning to create unique farming methods on the mountain slopes as well as engage in limited animal husbandry. The Meo community usually works together to design and builds homes for one another.
The Meo are talented musically, writing songs for every occasion. The lusheng, a native, bamboo wind instrument, is always used in the many festivals they celebrate. Because they had no written language for centuries, music became important as a means for recording history and legends. From a young age, children are taught these stories in song and sing them with the family or at festivals.
Ornate embroidery has been another source for remembering their past. The women of each village are talented embroiderers and weavers, developing their own techniques and styles. Because the ability to create quality art work is considered a desirable trait in a wife, girls begin to learn intricate embroidery at a young age and wear their bright creations as proof of their eligibility.
Although education is available to the Meo, many of the children are unable to take advantage of the opportunity due to the distance from the village to the school or due to the costs. Of the few who do graduate and go on to college, only a handful return to their villages.
What are their beliefs?
The Flowery Meo are immersed in a polytheistic (worship of many gods) ethnic religion. They are predominantly animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits), living in fear of the wrath of the spirits. Spirits can be benevolent or mischievous, protecting or bringing harm to men, beasts, and crops. Elaborate rituals and sacrifices are used for protection, and shamans (priests or priestesses) are responsible for identifying demons and instructing the afflicted in how to appease them. Every house has an altar to ancestral spirits of grandparents and other relatives who died natural deaths in old age. If a Meo dies a tragic death, however, his evil spirit is supposedly left behind to bring havoc to his family and village, unless he is properly appeased. Shamans are to be consulted before major decisions are made.
What are their needs?
In the early 1900's, a Christian missionary helped to develop a phonetic script for the Flowery Meo. He translated the New Testament into their language and shared the Gospel with a small number of them. Sadly, the Chinese government has repressed any printing of the Scriptures and strongly discourages the use of the script.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities that are keeping the Flowery Meo bound.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Flowery Meo.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Flowery Meo through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Flowery Meo believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other Christian materials into the Miao Hwa language.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Flowery Meo by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Flowery Meo
- Country: China
- Their language: Miao Hwa
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 5%
- Church members: 2,058
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 3
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 17,300 (42%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 23,900 (58%)
- 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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