The Lisu Tribe
The Lisu people are descendants of the semi-nomadic indigenous tribes of Tibet. The Lisu tribe has migrated to China, Burma, and Thailand over the past 300 years due to political and survival reasons. Due to their migration, the tribe is considered a minority across southeastern Asia and are often oppressed and disadvantaged. The tribe places great importance on their ancestry and heritage. There is great emphasis on preserving their culture and maintaining traditions. The majority of Lisu people depend on farming and craftsmanship for their main source of income. Even though they typically live in remote villages, they are often close to major cities or markets.
Traditionally, the Lisu people group has practiced animism, a form of folk religion whereby demons are consulted and appeased when a family experiences sickness or other calamities. The Lisu first began hearing the liberating message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ about 100 years ago. Christian missionaries first began evangelizing the Lisu in China and later those in Burma. However, effective evangelism among Thailand's Lisu began only in the early 1970's with the first translation of the Bible into Lisu. With growing technology and the urbanization of the Lisu people, previous Lisu Christians have been introduced to new ideas, including Buddhism which is the religion of 93.6% of Thailand's population.
Lisu Christians are desperate to grow in their faith but educated and ordained ministers are severely lacking. For example, there are 350,000 Lisu Christians in Yunnan Province, China and over 1,300 churches. However, there are only 30 ordained pastors and 300 lay volunteers to serve as leaders in these churches, and even less of these serving have received formal Biblical training. Additionally, there are an estimated 400,000 Lisu in Yunnan Province ready and waiting to hear the Gospel message, but have no access to the Bible or pastor.
Our native missionaries, led by Ahpu Nguapha, are striving to provide formal training and resources for Christian Lisu leaders. Ahpu has developed an 18 course curriculum that the missionaries utilize in short term training programs to equip and empower leaders to spread and teach the Gospel across China, Thailand, and Burma.