The Hakka are a unique offshoot of the Han, China’s majority ethnic group. They migrated to the south from ancient central China between the 4th and 13th centuries, fleeing their worn-torn homelands. They finally settled along the southern coast of China, mainly in Guangdong Province, far from the Mongol invaders and northern cultural influences from which they had fled. They are a resilient and hardy group and have retained their own language, culture and customs through the centuries.
Some Hakka communities employ a unique architectural structure called the tulou, literally “earthen building.” These round structures, often now constructed with more modern materials, provide protection, housing and a communal environment for up to one hundred families. Due to their agrarian lifestyle, the Hakka enjoy hearty cuisine with a balance of texturized meat and vegetables. Folk songs and mountain melodies are common in their communities. Modern Hakka culture emphasizes education for men, who are expected to find work outside the village, often in military or public service. Women, in turn, are expected to work in the fields and take care of everything else. The Hakka language plays an extremely important role in helping them retain their identity as a group.
Though the Hakka have had the Bible in portions since 1860 and in full by 1916, today they are still only about 2% Christian. In the mid 1800’s the Basel Missionary Society sent two of the first missionaries to the Hakka, who began work on translating portions of the scripture. The work they started resulted in 30,000 Hakka believers by the 1920’s. However, since 1949 that growth has been stunted. Today, the Hakka people practice Confucianism, Taoism and ancestor veneration.
The Hakka of southern China have birthed a number of influential leaders in politics and various disciplines. Pray for the Hakka that Christ’s hope and salvation would be established in the hearts of this strong people, “…that they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matt 13:15)
Pray for a team to be planted among the Hakka who will learn the language, develop relationships, teach and disciple, and that they will discover cultural keys and find favor among the Hakka as they live life among them. Pray that Hakka believers would develop a strong, growing church planting movement, and that their influence would help spread the Gospel throughout the nation.