Introduction / History
The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in the world. Although the vast majority live in mainland China, many have immigrated to other countries, and today they reside in nearly every nation of the world. In a number of these countries, including Laos, Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Thailand, the Chinese communities remain largely unreached with the Gospel. Most Han Chinese speak one of the many Chinese dialects, which include Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hokkien. Others speak Min Bei. Although the dialects are very similar, the speakers of one Chinese dialect cannot understand the speakers of another. The Han Chinese began fleeing to other countries in 1276, after the Mongol invasion. Many other upheavals and conflicts followed, and the Chinese continued to settle in other nations, particularly in Southeast Asia. Wherever they went, the Chinese settled almost exclusively in urban areas and became involved in business and commerce. Today, they are very influential in the economies of many of these nations, though they represent only a small percentage of the population. The Min Bei are one of over 20 distinct people groups within the Han Chinese cluster. The majority of Min Bei live in China, with a diaspora in a handful of other countries including Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
What Are Their Lives Like?
During the Japanese occupation of China during World War II, a nationalist movement began to grow among the Han Chinese who lived outside their homeland. The members of this movement began to vigorously support China. When the communists took over China in 1949, many of the Diaspora Han Chinese supported the revolution-not because they agreed with communist ideology, but because they desired strong leadership and unity for their motherland. As a result, they have often been viewed with suspicion by the governments of the countries where they live. The Diaspora Han Chinese continue to live primarily in cities. In a number of countries, particularly the westernized nations, many of them are businessmen. Their businesses range from small shops to international corporations. They live in a wide variety of houses, ranging from small apartments to costly mansions. Most of them have retained their traditional Chinese diet. Rice continues to be their staple food and they generally prefer to use chopsticks as utensils. Many of the Han Chinese who live outside of China have maintained their culture and language to varying degrees, depending on the country in which they live. The Min Bei in Thailand are less likely to speak their old language than the Bin Mei in other countries. In most countries, the Diaspora Han Chinese have also continued living by their traditional Chinese customs, especially those regarding marriage and the family. One of the primary reasons they have kept their own languages and customs is because they have a deeply ingrained belief in the superiority of their culture. The Min Bei treat their children affectionately and usually indulge boys more than girls. The children are pushed to do well in school and are given much time to devote to their studies. The Min Bei are known for their politeness and will go to great lengths to avoid disputes. However, once a dispute begins it is very difficult to stop because the Chinese place a high value on "saving face. " Giving ground in an open dispute would cause them to lose face-something the Chinese try to avoid at all costs.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Diaspora Min Bei have generally maintained their traditional Chinese religion, which is characterized by a blending of eastern philosophies, with an emphasis on maintaining harmony. Among the Min Bei in Thailand, the two most influential religions are Buddhism and ethnic religions. The Han Chinese consult horoscopes in an attempt to determine what course of action will promote harmony and bring good luck. They also believe in a pantheon of spirits who inhabit the earth. The spirits of their ancestors supposedly roam the earth, and if treated properly, are benign and bring good luck. They believe that ghosts exist as the spirits of people who are angry at the circumstances of their death; these spirits are malicious and capricious. By contrast, deities are souls of people who lived especially virtuous lives. They have spiritual powers that can be used to benefit those who worship them. That motivates the Bin Mei to worship these deities. Although the Han Chinese still claim adherence to these beliefs, they seem to have little effect on their everyday lives. In fact, many are non-religious in practice.
What Are Their Needs?
The Diaspora Chinese are often mistreated in the lands in which they live. They are viewed with suspicion because of the historical support of the Han Chinese for the Communist Revolution in China. In some countries there have been anti-Chinese riots. In nearly all of the countries, nationals are envious of the Diaspora Han Chinese because of their success in business, commerce, and trade. The Han Chinese suffer from great spiritual needs. Many of their adopted nations are open to the gospel, and several evangelistic tools are available in their Chinese dialects. The New Testament has been translated into the dialect of the Min Bei, but the translation is old (1934) and in need of updating. Although the Min Bei are considered a partially reached people in most of the countries where they live, in Thailand they are considered unreached.
Pray that Christian broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the JESUS Film will be effective tools for reaching the Min Bei in Thailand. Ask God to use Christian businessmen to boldly share the Good News with the Min Bei. Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Min Bei in Thailand. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Min Bei towards Christ and his gospel. Ask God to lead Christ followers in Thailand to share the gospel with the Min Bei people. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Min Bei of Thailand.
Scripture Prayers for the Han Chinese, Min Bei in Thailand.