The Hunanese of China
The more than nearly 42 million Hunanese-Han are part a sub-group of China's largest ethnic group, the Han. They mainly live in Hunan Province, home of Mao Ze-dong, and the stage of the communist’s famous “Long March.” There are also significant groups of Hunanese-Han in Guangzhou Province and Taiwan. They speak Xiang, the major dialect of Hunan.
The Hunanese-Han are known for their long history of resistance to foreigners, and they are steadfastly resistant to the Gospel, as were their ancestors. Missionaries who lived in China before it became a communist nation found the province closed to foreign influence. Consequently, the Hunanese-Han are only about 1.9% Christian. These suffer persecution from the communists, especially in the rural areas. Persecution climaxed during the Cultural Revolution and continues today with frequent intimidation through frequent arrests and beatings, even to the point of serious injury or death.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Chinese have a long history of political upheavals and disunity. When the communists took over and were able to unify the country, it aroused an admiration among Chinese the world over. Being Chinese and under communist rule, the Hunanese-Han are subject to such laws as only being allowed to have one child. The only exception is for farmers who may have two if the first is female. Such laws have caused a great increase in the abortion rate among the Han.
This is not the only suffering those in rule have created. During other programs to get ahead, the largest man-made famine was created in the 1960’s, causing the death of some 35 million Chinese.
The Hunanese-Han cities are best represented by the provincial capital, Changsha. It is a modern urban center and a focal point for industry, education, rapid development, and wealth. As the government tries to keep the peoples’ loyalty, it has allowed for greater economic freedom—provided that it does not exceed their control. This freedom seems to surface most in the urban centers.
The weather of the Hunan Province is sub-tropical and humid with the most rain falling from April to June. Summers see drought and temperatures in the 80’s. Winters are short and the mountain regions experience the lowest temperatures. The mountains and hills also affect travel and contact with other provinces. The Yangtze River is the most important river, forming part of the province’s border.
Among the mountains and hills, the mainly rural Hunanese-Han find lush valleys where they can grow rice, wheat, tea, and other fruits and vegetables. They are not only farmers; light and heavy industry are also developing as China grows as a consumer nation. At least 75% of the Hunanese-Han live in rural areas, building their communities around agriculture.
Today, China is changing, particularly among the young who wish to have an opportunity to prosper. Adopting western style clothing, they are open to western ideas, while the older generation retains the Mao style of dress. Disillusioned by the communist economy, the youth are seeking the opportunity to go beyond what they already have. During the student democracy movement in the summer of 1989, Changsha, the capital of Hunan, experienced large-scale student unrest.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Hunanese-Han are communists, yet there are still remnants of the teachings of Confucianism throughout the Chinese culture. Other beliefs have also lingered: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and other ethnic religions.
What Are Their Needs?
The Hunanese-Han have needs that can only be satisfied by growing relationships with God and His people. Virtually tens of millions of Hunanese-Han do not know someone who can tell them of the love of God. However, through the power of prayer, the spiritual hunger of these people is being stirred, making them more open to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into China to the Hunanese-Han.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Hunanese-Han through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Hunanese-Han believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Hunanese-Han bound.
- 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 Hunanese-Han church for the glory of His name!
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Hunanese-Han.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Hunanese-Han who will boldly declare the Gospel.
See also the following Han Chinese Groups:
The Diaspora Han Chinese;
The Hakka of China;
The Hainanese of China; and
The Han Chinese (Nung) of China.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Hunanese
- Country: China
- Their language: xiang
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1.9%
- Church members: 798,591
- 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: 8
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 16,770,400 (40%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 35,260,700 (60%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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