“Unfriendly.” “Poor.” “Not Good.”
These are a few words my Han Chinese friend has used to describe the Hui people group as a whole, and unfortunately, this is a very common view; most Han share her opinions of the Hui. My friend has also said things like, “If somebody stole something, it was probably a Hui person.” She’s told me many Han people have similar thoughts about the Hui – What she may not realize is that her views summarize hundreds of years’ worth of baggage carried by both people groups. This baggage was picked up generations ago, when both people groups’ ancestors engaged in bloody warfare against one another, leaving millions dead on both sides, and the resulting tension has been carried through the years and passed down to the current generation.
Adding to the barriers between the two groups are the many misconceptions held by the Han about Hui practices. Many Han feel the Hui look down on them and see them as unclean, particularly for eating pork, which the Hui refrain from eating. A major misconception among the Han is the believed reason the Hui don’t eat pork. My friend told me two different stories she’s heard explaining this. One is that the Hui people believe their ancestors are pigs, so they don’t eat pork because the animal is sacred to them, and another recounts a battle in which Hui people, starving from lack of supplies, found some pigs in a stream and ate the meat, not knowing that it was actually poisoned by their enemy. Because of this, they refuse to eat pork to this day.
Neither of these stories explains the real reason why Hui people don’t eat pork, but they do illustrate the lack of understanding between the two people groups. It shows that neither group has taken much time to learn basic cultural facts about the other. There is a definite barrier between the two peoples. This is made even more evident by the rapid spread of the Gospel among the Han and the minimal growth in Christian numbers among the Hui. Even though millions of Han people have received Christ, by comparison only a handful of Hui people have believed.
My friend is not a follower of Christ, so I used our conversation as an opportunity to share the Bible’s perspective on the Hui – that the Truth is to be spread to all nations and peoples, that the Hui are no different from the Han when it comes to salvation. I also hoped this would dispel some Chinese Christians’ sentiments toward the Hui, which are often not much more positive than the sentiments of lost Han. Tensions still cripple the Chinese church, preventing the people from loving the Hui as Christ loves them. We who know that Christ is passionate about the spread of His name among every people group can come alongside these brothers and sisters; we can help them see Jesus’ compassion for all people and let the Word speak by praying for them, by helping them read and understand, by showing them the love of Christ.
You can come alongside these brothers and sisters and pray that they will be filled with Christ’s compassion and love for their Hui neighbors. Pray that, through the Word, the Chinese church will see God’s love for the Hui. Pray that the Spirit will apply these truths to their hearts, and pray that they will actively and joyfully seek to share the Gospel with their Hui neighbors.