Cham, Eastern in Vietnam

Cham, Eastern
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
People Name: Cham, Eastern
Country: Vietnam
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 134,000
World Population: 134,900
Primary Language: Cham, Eastern
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.40 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Cham
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Eastern Cham people are a Malayo-Polynesian ethnic group, one branch of the Cham minority group in Vietnam. As one of the most ancient ethnic groups in Southeast Asia, the Eastern Cham people have a very deep and interesting history.
As a small minority group now overrun with poverty and persecution, one must remember that the Eastern Cham people's kingdom once reigned in Southeast Asia. "The ancient Cham were known for their seafaring skills, agricultural inventiveness, and construction of temples and religious monuments. The culture of the Cham in more recent periods has had little of the flavor of its ancient progenitor, relative poverty having replaced the grandeur of its ancient past" (World Culture Encyclopedia).
The Eastern Cham live in the provinces along the coastline of southern Vietnam, and their villages are spread out in the coastal and Mekong Delta provinces, specifically the Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, and Dong Nai provinces. Some Eastern Cham live in and around Ho Chi Minh City as well. The Cham are descendants from what was known as the Champa kingdom, which was in Vietnam, areas of Cambodia and southern Laos.

What Are Their Lives Like?

They are mainly agricultural producing rice, corn and cotton. The Eastern Cham also trade fish, shrimp, and other nautical goods, as well as weavings and other artistic products. Many of the Eastern Cham celebrate religious holidays surrounding their long-standing history. The celebrations are usually held at their historic temples, such as the Po Klong Garai Towers in Phan Rang, the Thap Ba Po Nagar Towers in Nha Trang, or the Duong Long Towers, located in Binh Dinh.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The lack of Christianity and the ability to evangelize among the Eastern Cham people is mostly due to their practice of different religions. A good percentage of the Eastern Cham people practice Hinduism or some form of it. Many follow Brahmanism, a sect of Hinduism. Brahmanism is practiced in the home, in temples, and at sacred festivals. The Eastern Cham are also highly influenced by traditional ancestor worship and animism. Their religious beliefs contribute to their history and identity as a people group. This makes it difficult for Cham individuals to embrace Christianity, as doing so would result in expulsion from the community.

What Are Their Needs?

The Eastern Cham people have many economic and political needs. They are still considered to be a minority in Vietnam and are looked down upon. Because of this discrimination, the Eastern Cham people have a very low self-esteem and self-worth as individuals and as a people group. Yet, they have pride in their heritage, as they vehemently point out to people who visit their villages that they are Eastern Cham, not Vietnamese.
The Eastern Cham are poor. The main reason they are poor is because they are dependent on agriculture, fishing and artistic goods. The Cham need more education and training on things such as farming techniques (irrigation, etc.) and the environment (erosion, deforestation, water quality), which could become major concerns.
Because of their isolation in rural villages, many of the Eastern Cham, are restricted in their ability to influence the nature of policies, programs, and project interventions designed to service their needs. The limited access to social services means they have very poor standards of living and quality of life.
They need better education and healthcare. Their rural locations limit their access to schools and medical facilities. This lack of healthcare adds to the prevalence of diseases. The lack of education adds to the decrease in teachers, quality of education, and therefore, more marginalization.

Prayer Points

Prayer is needed for the local government authorities who interfere with the gospel.
Pray for the Eastern Cham to be open to hearing the gospel and let go of their traditions that hold them to idol worship, animism and other religions.
Pray for the healthcare and education needs among the Eastern Cham people.
Pray for spiritual victory in territories in the Eastern Cham regions of Vietnam. The Eastern Cham are known to dedicate their babies to the spirits at the local temples.
Pray for the ethnic and cultural animosity in Vietnam to be broken down. Especially pray for the Vietnamese Christians to see their opportunity to evangelize to the Eastern Cham.
Pray for God to raise up Cham Christian leaders. May the Lord provide proper training and church partnerships so that churches can be planted in the villages.

Text Source:   Joshua Project