The Three Outer Autonomous Regions: Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol), Tibet-Xizang, Xinjiang Uyghur. Over 48 million people live here. Only around 6.6% are Christian. Tibet was briefly an independent Buddhist state until 1950, when China invaded. Many Tibetans resist the occupation. The government has destroyed over 6,000 monasteries. More than 1 million people may have died, and another 100,000 Tibetans now live in exile in Nepal, India, and the West. Tibetan Buddhism has a powerful hold on the people. The high places of the Tibetan plateau are known to be a spiritual stronghold, highly resistant to the gospel. The ancient religion (Bon) still has demonic and occult influence. 1,800 monasteries and 6,000 Buddhist monks remain in spite of Communist persecution. After centuries of failed attempts and very little fruit, perhaps just over 3,000 Christians exist among the 5 million ethnic Tibetans in the world.
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (Nei Mongol)
- Inner Mongolia is experiencing a boom in economic development (especially the energy industry) and, inevitably, in the mass immigration of Han Chinese. The region has sustained China's highest annual GDP increase for five years running. The recently arrived millions of Han also brought the gospel to Inner Mongolia on a much greater scale than ever before.
- Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol) - pray for:
- The binding of spiritual powers that blind Mongolians to the truth. Their religious practices include aspects of shamanism, ancestor worship, totemism and magic, combined with Lamaistic Buddhism of a variety similar to that practiced by Tibetans. In all cases, the spirit world is very real and profoundly powerful and influential.
- More workers. Praise God for the increase of mission-minded believers from neighbouring Mongolia, from the Han majority and even from further afield. Yet more workers are still needed.
- The recently translated Old and New Testaments in three different scripts and two different translations. Praise God for this great achievement! Some Scripture is also available in audio format. Pray that sufficient copies would be available and well used for witness and discipleship.
- House churches have multiplied across the region like wildfire, but almost all are Han groups. Christians are now increasingly reaching out to non-Han groups across the region. Catholics also have a notable presence here. Continuing repression of churches in many districts requires that they keep a low profile. Cult groups prey on the rapid growth and lack of teaching in house churches; in some areas, 80% of house churches have been taken over by the Eastern Lightning cult. Pray for continued growth as well as the availability of solid biblical teaching for all. Pray for believers to know the truth that sets them free, and pray that they would not be taken in by a counterfeit gospel.
- Among the traditionally nomadic Evenki and Oroqen peoples along the Russian border is very little evangelical witness and only a small number of Christians. Most practice a mix of shamanism, animism and Lamaistic Buddhism. Pray for them to be reached with the good news of Jesus.
Tibet – Xizang Autonomous Region
- Tibet is a contentious international issue. It lost its short-lived independence as a theocratic Buddhist state in 1950 when China re-invaded the land. China's central government has systematically sought to destroy the culture, religions and ethnic identity of the Tibetan people. Resistance to the occupiers has resulted in frequent revolts and unrest. Over 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed, over one million people may have lost their lives and a further 100,000 may have been forced into exile, including the spiritual and political leader of Tibetans, the Dalai Lama. His spiritual influence is global and extends far beyond Tibetan Buddhism. But he is now in his 70s; his advocacy for Tibetan freedom cannot last forever. Once he is gone, many reckon Tibet's cause will suffer a fatal blow. Pray for a just and peaceful settlement for all concerned.
- Tibetan Buddhism permeates society and has a powerful hold on the people. It incorporates many elements of the pre-Buddhist Bon religion, which still exists in its own right as well. Bon has powerful demonic and occult influences and spirit appeasement. The high places of the Tibetan plateau are known to be a spiritual stronghold highly resistant to the gospel. In TAR, there are still 1,789 monasteries and 46,000 Buddhist monks. Pray that present sufferings may be God's means for bringing spiritual freedom to Tibetans.
- After centuries of failed attempts and limited fruit, there may be just over 1,000 evangelical and 2,000 Catholic Christians among the five million ethnic Tibetans in the world. There are a handful of underground fellowships in Lhasa, some scattered believers elsewhere in the TAR and some small groups elsewhere in China. Although there are believers among the larger Tibetan peoples (Central Tibetan, Amdo, Kham), many less populous peoples have no believers at all. Although few in number, fearful and under great pressure to fall back into their old ways, Tibetan Christians are growing and emerging as a viable Church with their own leaders and patterns of worship and fellowship. Pray for this fledgling Church.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
- Almost all the indigenous peoples are Muslim. The highly charged political and religious atmosphere, the removal of expatriate Christian workers from most of the region and the general lack of vision by Han Chinese to evangelize these peoples mean that the vast bulk of Xinjiang's indigenous peoples are untouched by the gospel. Reaching them will be difficult (but not impossible!), requiring perseverance, cultural sensitivity and great faith. Pray for an awakening among Christians in China and those globally to the great spiritual needs of Xinjiang's unevangelized peoples.
- The 850,000 Christians in Xinjiang, almost all Han Chinese, are culturally isolated from the indigenous population, but have experienced significant growth nonetheless. Pray that they may have a vision for and understanding of witnessing to Muslims. Many live in the capital, Urumqi. Among the non-Chinese are a few hundred known Christians; their numbers are growing, but they are subjected to harsh repression from the state and social and family pressures to return to Islam. The government takes a hard line against Christian ministry in Xinjiang (on the pretext that it might provoke Muslim anger), and expats find it very difficult to minister at all.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.