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Tsun-Lao in Vietnam


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Tsun-Lao in Vietnam map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
14,000 Ts'un-Lao Ethnic Religions 1.00 % 0.08 % No No   

Tsun-Lao in Vietnam

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Introduction / History
The Tsun-Lao live in the mountainous regions of northern Vietnam, where Vietnamese influence was minimal until the 1900s. Today, however, many are assimilated into the Vietnamese culture. The Tsun-Lao are part of a larger cultural linguistic group of Tai peoples, which includes the Shan, the Laotians, and others. It is possible that the Tsun-Lao and the Lao are the same official ethnic community.

Centuries ago, Lao lived in China. However, relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them southward into Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 1954, Communist rebels emerged in North Vietnam, and military regimes formed, leading to massive bloodshed. The war finally ended in a Communist victory in 1975, when the Communist Republic of North Vietnam overtook South Vietnam. Post-war North Vietnam has gone through a period of intense reconstruction of industry, yet there has been a deterioration in the quality of output.

What are their lives like?
The Tsun-Lao are primarily rice farmers, although gathering forest products, fishing, hunting, livestock production, and making handicrafts are also important activities. The farmers grow wet rice on terraces watered by small brooks. They also raise dry rice on swiddens, or plots cleared by the slash and burn method. Since rice production is minimal, cinnamon and wood are gathered for trade.

The Tsun-Lao live in villages alongside rivers or near roads that give them access to Chinese merchants. Their houses are typically made of wood or bamboo and are built high on stilts. Poultry, pigs, and goats are allowed to run freely underneath the houses. The Buddhist Wat, or temple, is the center of village life.

In times past, social organization among the Tsun-Lao was aristocratic. Each village was led by a headman who had ultimate authority over the villagers. In 1945, the authority of headmen was abolished. Since that time, each community has been governed by a committee elected by the people's council. There is no longer a rigid social class system or a hereditary elite class. Modern Tsun-Lao social structure is based on family units, with no widespread lineages or clans.

Tsun-Lao culture has changed dramatically as a result of Vietnam's transition from a feudal to a socialist society. The farmers now belong to agricultural cooperatives and share equally in production. In addition, small-scale industrialization has helped turn agricultural peasants into a Vietnamese working class. Socialism has also brought improved education and health care. A medical school and some hospitals have been built in the Tsun-Lao region. These have helped gain control over diseases such as small pox, cholera, tuberculosis, and malaria.

What are their beliefs?
Half of the Tsun-Lao are devout Theravada Buddhists. They believe that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (a state of eternal bliss) at death. They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with ritual chants and sacrifices.

The remaining Tsun-Lao are ethnic religionists, combining folk animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits) with Buddhism. They seek help through various supernatural beings and objects. Of major importance to them are "territorial deities."

What are their needs?
The Tsun-Lao have many physical needs. They occupy a region in which yearly monsoons destroy schools, clinics, and bridges and threaten to leave hundreds homeless. As recently as August, 1996, many people were killed, and thousands were left homeless in the severe storms, landslides, and flash flooding that occurred. Humanitarian aid, medical facilities, and doctors are needed in this region.

Spiritually, the needs of the Tsun-Lao are even greater. Those who have been affected by the fighting and bloodshed of the past are in desperate need of inner healing and true spiritual hope. Prayer is the key to seeing them reached with the Good News.

Prayer Points
Ask the Lord to call medical missionaries and humanitarian aid workers to go to Vietnam and share Christ with the Tsun-Lao.
Pray that the Lord will give missions agency new strategies for effectively evangelizing the Tsun-Lao.
Ask God to use Tsun-Lao believers to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
Pray that God will save key leaders among the Tsun-Lao who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Tsun-Lao.
* 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.
* Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.

View Tsun-Lao in all countries.

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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:Northwest, scattered, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, and Son La provinces.
(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: Tsun-Lao
People Name General: Tsun-Lao
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 110223
Joshua Project People ID: 15599
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 14,000
Population all Countries: 14,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Thai
People Name General: Tsun-Lao
Ethnic Code: MSY49d
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Ts'un-Lao (14,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): tsl    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism39.00 % 
Christianity1.00 %(Evangelical: 0.08 %)
Ethnic Religions60.00 % 
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]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 0   No evangelical Christians or churches. No access to major evangelical print, audio, visual, or human resources
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]
None Reported
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

Tsun-Lao in Vietnam

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Thai     Asia, Southeast    
      Tsun-Lao Vietnam    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Tsun-Lao in Vietnam          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Ts'un-Lao  
    All Religions                              

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