World Population: 13,000
Main Language: Qiang, Northern
Main Religion: Buddihism
Christ-Followers: Few, less than 2%
Persecution level: 16 (1=highest)
The Xiangcheng build beautiful houses, which have white rocks on the roofs like those of the Qiang people. Xiangcheng homes are square-shaped, two stories, with colorful decorations around the window frames. They are very different from the houses of their neighbors, the Khampa.
The Xiangcheng are zealous believers in Tibetan Buddhism. Their beliefs form a large part of their identity as a people. There are numerous Buddhist temples and pagodas throughout the region.
The Xiangcheng are one of the most untouched people groups in China. Few – perhaps none – have ever heard of Jesus Christ. There are no Christian communities in the region and no gospel literature or recordings in their language. There has been no history of missionary work in the vicinity of this hidden location.
Lord, You are the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, and there is nothing hidden from Your sight. You are the wisest counsellor of all. I thank You for Your promise, that You give wisdom to those who ask.
I’m asking now for Your servants working with the Xiangcheng of China that you would give them the wisdom they need today. Fill them with heavenly wisdom that is pure, peace-loving, and considerate. Reveal to them the divine strategies they need to navigate the cultural issues they are facing with the Xiangcheng of China. Inspire them with creative solutions to the political and religious challenges that hold back the Gospel among the Xiangcheng of China. Lord, release our wisdom and light the path before them to penetrate this gourd with the truth of Your love.
People: A Che
World Population: 40,200
Main Language: Ache
Main Religion: Ethnic Religions
Despite the similarities in their names, the A Che are not the same as the Azhe people, another Yi subgroup located in Yunnan Province. The Azhe live in Mile and Yimen counties farther to the east and speak a different Southeastern Yi dialect. Because of their inclusion in the artificially constructed Yi nationality (made up of more than 100 distinct groups), the A Che are mostly unknown to outsiders. However, they were mentioned in the 1953 national census of China. The A Che do not believe they are related to other Yi groups, in much the same way many of the numerous Native American tribes in the United States do not consider themselves historically, culturally, or ethnically related to each other.
Despite their marked present-day linguistic differences, the A Che and the Azhe share similar origins. They say they migrated south to Jianshui County during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907). They were enlisted in the armies of the Luodian Kingdom. After settling in Jianshui for a time, some crossed the mountains into Yimen and Shuangbai counties where they gradually evolved to become the A Che.
There are two important festivals unique to the A Che of Shuangbai County. The Open Street Festival is held every eighth day of the first lunar month in Damaidi District, and the Dragon Worship Festival is held on the second day of the second lunar month in Fadian Community of Yulong District.
The A Che are polytheists. In the past, they claim they were closer to the gods, but then their line of communication with the Creator was broken. Therefore, they are now unable to enter heaven.
Hidden away in some of the most remote areas of southwest China, the A Che are known to few outsiders. As a result, they are a completely unreached and un-evangelized people. They have also never appeared in mission lists of people groups. The vast Chuxiong Prefecture experiences very little Christian witness. Added to the difficult task of reaching this group is the A Che’s inability to read or speak Chinese. Evangelists to the A Che face a daunting communication challenge.
World Population: 7,060
Main Religion: Islam
Introduction / History
The Cocos Islands (sometimes referred to as the Keeling Islands) are a group of 27 coral atolls in the Indian Ocean to the northwest of Australia. British Naval Captain William Keeling is believed to have discovered these islands in 1609 but it would be the 19th century before the islands would become populated. The islands were annexed by the United Kingdom in 1857 and were transferred into Australian control in 1955. Only two of the islands are inhabited with West Island housing ethnic Europeans and Home Island being home to ethnic Malays.
Despite knowledge of the islands for over 200 years, it was not until the early nineteenth century that they were settled. Initially, the islands were considered valuable due to their location on a trade route from Europe to the Far East. Later, they would become vital due to military operations outposts for support of allied countries in WW2.
Where are they Located?
The 27 coral islands are arranged in something like a horseshoe shape and are located in the Indian Ocean to the northwest of Australia. The land area of the two inhabited islands (West and Home) is approximately 8.5 miles in total.
What are Their Lives Like?
The climate of the Cocos Islands is tropical with high humidity. Trade winds buffer the temperatures slightly for much of the year. The tropical cyclone season runs from October through April. The population of the inhabited islands is around 600. The islands are flat coral atolls with little arable land. Only small amounts food is grown locally, however, coconuts are plentiful. Freshwater is obtained by collecting rainwater in underground reservoirs.
Most of the people of the Cocos Islands (Home Island) are of Malayan descent with small numbers of people having ancestors from China, Papua, Africa, and the East Indies. The Malaya live primarily on Home Island. The society that exists today has been held together for eight generations by its isolation, shared economic endeavors, strong family loyalty, a deepening commitment to Islamic religion, and their unique version of the old Malay language of the East Indies. Few outsiders have lived among them and little has been recorded about their cultural and traditional practices.
Despite their disparate origins, the Cocos Malay people achieved an identity of their own within one generation of settlement. The “Cocos-born”, as they were officially referred to, lived separately from both the Javanese contract laborers and the European owner-settlers. They had their own mosques, their own leaders, and their own ceremonies.
Today the cornerstone of the Cocos Malay society and the focus of each individual’s life is the Islamic religion. Few depart from its teachings and observances. Despite their self-imposed isolation, elements of the English-Scottish traditions of the early overseeing families have been absorbed into Cocos Malay cultural practices. Certain foods, dances and musical influences have a western flavor.
Throughout each year, a large number of ceremonies are held at various houses in the community for a wide range of family celebrations. These include house blessings, welcomes, farewells, boat launchings, remembrances of deceased relatives, circumcisions, Koran readings and other family events. The most significant celebration of the year for the Cocos Malay people is Hari Raya Puasa, the day that marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The Cocos Malay people have shown a remarkable flair for adaptation despite their desire for isolation by accepting new cultural elements and blending them with traditions of their own.
Several items to keep in mind when encountering the Cocos Malay people are to dress conservatively out of respect to the Muslim community, remove shoes when entering a house or mosque, enter a house at the backdoor unless the front door is propped open, use the right hand for eating, greeting, or serving, and refrain from touching anyone on the head. West Island is much more western in its customs and culture. Typical resort dress is common there.
West Island is much more modern with western amenities available and tourism common. West Island offers several options for accommodation with multi-unit bungalows and motels located near the heart of the modest business district. Each location offers quick access to the beach. Four TV channels, three radio stations, telephone service, electricity, and air conditioning are available. At some locations on the island, internet and mobile telephone service are available along with DVD players, fax, and copy machines. There is one airport, several paved roads, and many dirt paths servicing the islands. The Australian Dollar is the currency and most major credit cards are accepted and encouraged. There is little opportunity to exchange currency on the islands. It is best to exchange currency prior to visiting the islands. Australian government and law are the basis for order in the islands. There is a small police force and the islands are not involved in any international conflict.
What are Their Beliefs?
The island people are primarily of the Sunni Muslim faith and speak Malay and English. Three mosques are known to exist but no information about houses of worship of other faiths could found.
What are Their Needs?
The Cocos Islands need Christian missionaries skilled in outreach to Muslims. With a small amount of tourism existing on West Island, outreach to people of other religions is also possible. Opportunities to help with medical and dental services are also available to missions-minded people
* Pray for God to give an opportunity for Biblical Christianity to be proclaimed on these islands.
* Pray for local converts to be prepared for ministry unto their neighbors.
* Pray for their protection and provision while they engage in spiritual warfare