Introduction / History The Eastern Cham people are a Malayo-Polynesian ethnic group, one of two branches of the Cham minority group in Vietnam and Cambodia.
As one of the most ancient ethnic groups in Southeast Asia, the Eastern Cham people have a very deep and interesting history.
They are now overrun with poverty and persecution, but at one time the Eastern Cham people had a powerful kingdom 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).
Where are they located? Both Cham groups have had serious difficulties with being persecuted by nation states, so they try to remain unknown. Most likely they are blending in with other ethnic groups like the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, or the Indians. There is no information about where the Eastern Cham live in the US.
What are their lives like? Because the Eastern and the Western Cham peoples have different religions, they are unlikely to have much social contact. Since they are Hindu, the Eastern Cham are likely to relate to South Asians in the US.
What are their beliefs? Most of the Eastern Cham are Hindu. Hinduism was brought to them hundreds of years ago when a Hindu kingdom controlled much of SE Asia. 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. For example, they are known to dedicate their babies to the spirits at the local Hindu temples.
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 Cham people have been in the US for decades, so the window of opportunity to reach them when they are unsettled and spiritually open is over. Yet believers needs to befriend them and introduce them to Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points * 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 Vietnamese believers to see their opportunity to evangelize to the Eastern Cham people in the US.
* Pray for God to raise up Cham believers who will begin a disciple making movement in the US.