Bugan in China

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Bugan
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 3,000
World Population: 3,000
Primary Language: Bugan
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

There are many Mon-Khmer languages spoken in China and across Southeast Asia, but the Bugan find themselves alone as a Mon-Khmer people in southeast Yunnan. In the distant past, the various Mon-Khmer groups were part of one large Austro-Asiatic group which was "driven out of their habitats by invaders, dispersed and split into the isolated groups they are today."

The Bugan were completely unknown until 1996 when Chinese linguist Li Jinfang first documented their existence. It is not known under what minority group, if any, the government categorizes them. The Bugan speak a Mon-Khmer language, but no other source mentions any other Mon-Khmer groups in the southeastern arm of Yunnan.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Bugan live in agriculture-based communities along the rivers and streams in southern China. Most are engaged in rice cultivation. They take full advantage of the land by constructing rice fields that appear to hang from the sides of the mountain slopes. Bugan women and girls spend much time learning to embroider and to make their unique dress, although in recent years many women in the area have begun to wear factory-produced imitations.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Bugan do not consider themselves religious, but traces of animism and ancestor worship are prominent in their everyday activities. The Bugan celebrate the Han Chinese festivals, especially the annual Chinese New Year and Spring festivals.

There are no known Christian believers among the Bugan, even though small numbers of churches can be found among some of their neighbors. In nearby Guangxi many missionaries labored sacrificially in the past. One committed and love-filled worker was Eleanor Chestnut, a missionary-doctor from Iowa, who often performed free surgery for people in her bathroom. One operation involved the amputation of a coolie's leg. An observer noted, "The surgery was successful, except that the flaps of the skin did not grow together. Someone noticed that Dr. Chestnut was limping. When asked why, she responded, 'Oh, it's nothing'. The doctor had taken skin from her own leg for an immediate transplant to the one the nurses called 'a good-for-nothing coolie'."

What Are Their Needs?

The Bugan people need to submit to Jesus Christ so they can experience the abundant life he offers them in John 10:10.

Prayer Points

Pray for bold workers who are driven by the love of the Holy Spirit to go to them.

Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them.

Pray for the authority of Christ to bind hindering spiritual forces to lead them from darkness to light.

Pray for signs and wonders to happen among them and for great breakthroughs with a rapid multiplication of disciples and house churches.

Text Source:   Joshua Project