Han Chinese, Hakka in Myanmar (Burma)

Han Chinese, Hakka
Photo Source:  婷 尹 - Pixabay 
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People Name: Han Chinese, Hakka
Country: Myanmar (Burma)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 22,000
World Population: 44,196,900
Primary Language: Chinese, Hakka
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 3.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.40 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Chinese
Affinity Bloc: East Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Hakka are proud of their cultural differences with the other subgroups of the Han Chinese. Many famous Chinese have been Hakka, including Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kwan Yew (former Prime Minister of Singapore), and Hong Xiuquan (the leader of the Taiping Rebellion).

At various stages between the fourth and thirteenth centuries AD, large numbers of Hakka people of China were forced to flee their homes in the war-torn Yellow River valley to seek refuge further south. These war refugees came to be known as Kejia - a Hakka word meaning "strangers" or "guests." When the Mongol hordes swept across China in the thirteenth century, more Hakka fled to South China and the Southeast Asian regions.

Myanmar or Burma gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Unfortunately, much of modern Burmese history has been defined by civil wars between the Bamar majority and the nation’s minority groups. The military launched another coup in 2021 and is currently ruling the country.

Many Christian resources are available in Hakka Chinese including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film.

What Are Their Lives Like?

When a non-Hakka woman marries into a Hakka family, she is required to learn the Hakka language. Hakka parents prefer that their children marry within the Hakka community. Hakka parents want their children to obtain a university education and attend colleges in China, Europe or North America.

Many of the remaining Hakka in Myanmar own restaurants and feature a fusion of southern Chinese, French and Burmese cuisine. Other Hakka work in the growing tourist trade, finance or as managers in factories.

Myanmar, although is classified as a “less developed” nation by the UN, has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The Chinese are investing billions of dollars through the Belt and Road Initiative. Some of the poorer Burmese resent the relative wealth of the Chinese in their country. The Hakka strive to maintain their language and distinct culture. They send their children to private Chinese schools. Since they are a small minority, the Hakka try to keep a low profile and out of the newspaper headlines.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Since the advent of communism many Hakka could accurately be described as nonreligious. There are aspects of animism and shamanism among the rural Hakka population. Two thirds of the Hakka in Myanmar claim to be Buddhists.

Buddhism is the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha. He lived in the 6th and 5th century BC in ancient India. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can gain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation.

Theravada, one of the two major branches of Buddhism, declares that by following the Noble Eightfold Path of right intentions and right actions that a Buddhist can achieve nirvana or a state of freedom and salvation. The vast majority of Buddhists also practice animism, a belief in the spirit world. In animism, evil spirits must be appeased through prayers, sacrifices and rituals.

Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in December.

Certain foods are required, and it is believed that eating these foods on an auspicious day will bring one good fortune throughout the year.

What Are Their Needs?

Hakka believers outside of Myanmar need to take the message of Christ to Burmese Hakka. The Hakka must understand that only Jesus can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life. Economic prosperity is no substitute for God.

Prayer Points

Pray the tiny group of believers among the Hakka in Myanmar can find fellowship and grow in the faith.

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Hakka of Myanmar.

Pray that the Hakka would have a desire to read the Bible and listen to Christian Hakka radio programs.

Pray that the Lord would establish a Hakka church in Myanmar in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project