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Phu Thai in Vietnam

Phu Thai

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Phu Thai in Vietnam map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
252,000 Phu Thai Buddhism 4.50 % 2.50 % No No   

Phu Thai in Vietnam

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Introduction / History
It is difficult for researchers to identify the Phutai because they have merged with other communities. In Vietnam they have not been granted status as a distinct ethnic group, but they are one of many subgroups lumped together under the official 'Thai' minority. The name Phutai has a generic meaning, 'Tai people ', which further complicates attempts to classify them. Despite this murky situation, some other ethnic groups envy the Phutai because of their impressive cultural heritage. They are a proud people who still preserve their traditions.

The Phutai live across three countries in Southeast Asia: Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Phutai may also live in south-west Yunnan Province, China. A number of Phutai refugees were granted asylum in the USA. A small community has lived in the Los Angeles area since the late 1970s.

What are their lives like?
The lifestyle of the Phutai people is very similar to the peoples who surround them.

What are their beliefs?
Many Phutai in Vietnam, and to a lesser degree in Laos, remain animists, with minimal Buddhist influence. Buddhism is stronger among the Phutai in Thailand, but worldwide only about 50 per cent of Phutai people identify themselves as Buddhists.

Each Phutai village in Thailand has one or more female shamans, called moi yau. They are responsible for mediating between the Phutai people and the spirit world. During certain times they go into trances and give messages from the spirit world or from the Phutai ancestors. The moi yau are both feared and highly respected by the Phutai.

Even those Phutai who say they are Buddhists mix their faith with the worship of 25 different spirits. 'Every year during the third lunar month the Phutai gather for the Pi Tian ("Spirit of Heaven") festival. People relax and unwind by riding horses, elephants and shooting arrows, etc. The focal point of the festival is a ritual at which the whole community gathers and offers sacrifices and prayers to the spirit that they believe resides in paradise above. After waiting for some time, the Phutai believe there is a moment when the spirit actually comes down from heaven. The normally reserved Phutai dance and jump for joy, and often healing takes place. Despite this remarkable ceremony, there are few Phutai who have ever accepted Jesus Christ, who is the Holy Spirit who gives lasting joy.

Today there are several hundred Phutai Christians in Laos, both Catholic and Protestant, and a similar number in Thailand. The vast majority of Phutai people, however, have never heard the gospel. Their strong sense of community often results in the Phutai being resistant to change and outside influence. Consequently, few have ever broken away to follow Christ.

What are their needs?
The Phutai people need to accept the warm embrace of the only Savior so they can enjoy spiritually meaningful lives.

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

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

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 translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.


View Phu Thai in all countries.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-06-15
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Country: Vietnam
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
Persecution Rank:25 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:North central, Ha Tinh and Nghe An provinces; also in Laos.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Phu Thai
People Name General: Phu Thai
Alternate People Names:
Phu TaiPoutai
ROP3 Code: 108016
Joshua Project People ID: 14383
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 252,000
Population all Countries: 1,044,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Tai
People Name General: Phu Thai
Ethnic Code: MSY49z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Phu Thai (252,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): pht    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism95.50 % 
Christianity4.50 %(Evangelical: 2.50 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have a modest presence.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching
Ministry Activity
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Networking: Visit for networking possibilities.
Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Phu Thai in Vietnam

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tai     Asia, Southeast    
      Phu Thai Vietnam    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Phu Thai in Vietnam          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Phu Thai  
    All Religions                              

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