The Hui

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:1-4

The Basics:

The Hui, made up of about 15 million people, are the largest and most widespread of China’s Muslim nationalities. They also comprise the third largest minority group in China. Remarkably, Hui live in 2,310 of China’s 2,369 counties and municipalities. Small pockets also live in Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Only .006% of them know Christ!

Their Beliefs:

To be Hui is to be Muslim – it is the core of who they are. Even if they don’t fully understand it, or even follow it the same as some other countries do, it has been hidden deep inside of them from the time they were very young. For the Hui, Islam is more than just a set of religious beliefs – it is a total way of life.

Their Culture:

The Hui are some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet. Some of this comes from just being Chinese, and the rest of it comes from just being Hui. Either way – you never want to visit the Hui on a full stomach! Many of the Hui own restaurants. You can find them in cities all over China and they serve some of the best food you will ever eat. As you walk down the street, you can often recognize the men by their prayer caps and the women by their head scarves. Hui with other Hui are like family. Even if they are strangers, you would never know.

Their Language:

Mandarin Chinese is the heart language of the Hui in both spoken and written. But the spiritual language of the Hui is a mixture of Arabic and Persian.

Their History:

The Hui are descendants of Muslim traders, soldiers and officials who came to China between the 7th and 14th centuries. They settled and intermarried with Arab Muslims and Han Chinese.

The Situation:

Although there are around 15 million Hui scattered throughout China, very few (including the Chinese church) are intentionally planting their lives among the Hui to tell them about Christ. It is estimated that every five minutes one Hui person dies. Currently, more Hui people are dying daily than are hearing the gospel. The Hui are in desperate need of more laborers to boldly proclaim the gospel and reap the harvest that God has prepared.

Hui People

%

Muslim

  • Christian .006%

A Call to Prayer

I had never seen Friday prayers at a mosque before. On our way back from a trip to another city, we decided to stop and watch as the men assembled for worship.

It was a cold, cloudy afternoon, eerily quiet, the square almost void of people. A few minutes passed as I wandered around in front of the intricately decorated mosque, looking at the buildings and attempting but not succeeding to read the characters written on the walls.

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Who is Who?

Buddhist jewelry, short-shorts and neighborhood bars. These are typically not the first things that pop into one’s mind when thinking of Muslims. I live in a city with mostly Han people and roughly thirty percent Hui people. Despite the people group categorization, at first glance it can be difficult to differentiate the Hui from their Han neighbors. Traditionally, the Hui people have a distinct culture that can be characterized from the outside by their clothing and lifestyle choices. However, cultural lines between the Han and the Hui are becoming more and more blurred.

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What’s in a Story?

Storytelling has been around for generations uncountable. It spans countries, cultures, and people groups. It’s a major component in the lives of people from oral cultures, and it sneaks its way into the everyday lives of people from written cultures as well.

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God is Always Working

One day as I was heading home on the bus, tired after a long morning of intensive study in language class, I noticed three Muslim women who were more covered than the majority of Muslim women in our city. I asked God for courage to start a conversation, and then began speaking in broken Chinese to these precious women.

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She Said You Can Never Know

As we sat on her lumpy sofa, eating fruit and drinking tea, we explained the Easter story to my sweet, elderly Hui neighbor. We explained that God sent Jesus to Earth and that Jesus lived a perfect life; He never sinned. We told her about His death on the cross and about His resurrection. We explained to her that for everyone who believes He was the perfect sacrifice, and for everyone who asks for forgiveness of their sins, He is faithful and will forgive them.

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Eid al-Adha – The Festival of the Sacrifice

Hours before sunrise Mr. Ma, his father, grandfather, and 4-year-old son, Ibrahim, all rise and get dressed. Winter has almost arrived so they pull on their warmest long underwear before slipping into their finest clothes. Mr. Ma slips on black dress pants, a new white shirt and a nice grey sports coat. His son has received new clothes for this special day. He has a new white outfit that resembles traditional Muslim clothing with a colorful prayer cap (skull cap). The Ma men leave their mud brick home and walk down to the local village mosque where they find a tour bus waiting.

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Longing to Wait Well

I recently read a book called Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams are Delayed, by Betsy Childs Howard. While I initially read the book with singleness in mind, I soon realized that its truths apply to many aspects of life, particularly life overseas. Looking back, my journey of life overseas has been filled with seasons of waiting. To begin, I waited through several years of schooling in preparation for moving overseas. When that was finished, I waited almost five more years to gain professional experience and pay off my student loans. While I didn’t have to wait too long for a job opportunity to open up, the months leading up to my move were still filled with waiting and preparation. And now that I’m here, the waiting continues, in ways big and small.

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Religion and Good Works

Living here has helped my teammates and I see that the Hui (any people group, really) can’t be put into a box. As a friend of mine said recently, “The Hui all seem to wear different caps.” There are commonalities, but conversations with different Hui people give a fairly broad spectrum of views.

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Day Twenty Eight: Change of Plans

I’m not supposed to be here. And by that I mean I hadn’t planned on being here. I knew I’d be spending six months in Asia, and I had a particular city I intended to be in, but God changed the course of the trip about three weeks before I left the U.S. The assignment I’d requested had been changed to a city in a completely different region, with a team focused on a people group I had never heard of, the Hui.

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Pray for the Hui

 

  • Pray for laborers called by God to reach the Hui – laborers from other countries as well as Chinese Christians currently living among the Hui.
  • Thank God for ongoing gospel proclamation efforts among the Hui. Pray that effective strategies can be identified and implemented to make Christ’s love known to the Hui.

  • Pray for God to tear down the barriers that keep the Hui from hearing the Good News of Jesus’ forgiveness and love.

  • Pray that Hui believers will gather together and form churches that will multiply.
  • Pray for followers of Jesus to boldly proclaim the gospel to the Hui, believing that God is at work among them.