Introduction / History
Making their way into Northern Vietnam from China by following the Red River, the Red Tai finally settled in the region that is now known as Thanh Hoa Province, south of Sam Nuea.
The Tai had emigrated south from China due to unending pressure by the Chinese. In 1884, the French colonized Vietnam, and in 1948, organized an independent Tai Federation. Unfortunately, Communist rebels emerged, leading to the demise of the federation. North Vietnam became a Communist Republic in 1954. After a prolonged civil war, Communism was pushed into South Vietnam by 1975.
The Red Tai are closely related to the White and Black Tai, who were named for the color of their women's traditional clothing. Their tonal language, Tai Daeng, belongs to a larger ethno-linguistic grouping of people known as the Tai, which also include the Laotians, the Shan, and some other groups.
What are their lives like?
The Red Tai are unusually polite, respectful, and hospitable people. Beginning at a very young age, their children are taught proper social behavior. This code of conduct is based on having respect for those who rank higher. Additional emphasis is placed on becoming independent and self-reliant.
Red Tai society is very structured; it is organized on the basis of age, occupation, and wealth. For example, rural farmers are ranked below craftsmen, merchants, and city government officials. The priests form their own separate class.
The basic unit of Red Tai society is the family and is basically patriarchal, or maile dominated. The immediate family usually live together, and there is mutual respect for one another at all levels. They live, eat, and farm together with the women working alongside their husbands. Newly married couples often live with the girl's family until they are able to establish their own separate home.
Wet rice farming dominates the Red Tai economy. Rice is grown both as a dietary staple and for cash sales. The Red Tai are noted for sharing the work equally. Both men and women plow, fish, cook, tend to the children, clean the house, and wash the clothes.
When Vietnam made the transition to socialism, all levels of Tai society were affected. Groups of independent farmers were organized into "community farms" that share equally in production. In addition, small-scale industrialization led to the entry of Tai peasant farmers into the Vietnamese working class. Socialism also brought in more medical schools and better hospitals. This has helped to stop the spread of small pox, cholera, tuberculosis, and malaria, which were rampant in times past.
What are their beliefs?
The vast majority of the Red Tai practice animism (belief that spirits are located in objects). The people often seek help through supernatural spirits and objects. They also believe in multiple personal souls. Rituals for strengthening the individual personality within are often performed.
Ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for help and guidance) is also a common practice among the Red Tai. "Guardian spirits" and "locality spirits" are revered. If the people wish to avoid being cursed and receive blessing, the spirits must be appeased.
Some of the Red Tai have mingled Buddhist teachings-particularly Theravada Buddhism-with their traditional beliefs.
What are their needs?
There are very few Christian resources available in the Tai Daeng language. There is also a need for more laborers to go to Vietnam and minister hope and healing to these war-torn people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to give Red Tai believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Red Tai toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of Vietnam's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will call teams of medical missionaries to Vietnam to live and work among the Red Tai.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Red Tai.