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Lesu in China


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Lesu in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
19,000 Nisu, Eastern Ethnic Religions 0.10 % 0.03 % No No   

Lesu in China

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Introduction / History
The Lesu were once named the Ma Long people, who were part of the Sou tribe dating back to the Han and Western Jin dynasties (220 BC - AD 316). "The Lesu entered Yuanjiang County during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) had spread to Xinping and Shiping counties."

The government has included the Lesu as part of the Yi nationality in China, an artificially constructed classification that contains at least "several dozen branches" of different ethnic groups. Lesu or Leisu is the self-name of this group. The Chinese call them Shansu, meaning "mountain people." The Lesu who live west of the Gasa River in the Ailao Mountains of Mosha District reportedly no longer speak their mother tongue, having reverted to Chinese. Because of this, the people in the area call them Jia Shansu, meaning "fake Shansu."

What are their lives like?
There are two different sets of festivals celebrated by the Lesu of different areas. Those in Eshan, Xinping, and Shuangbai celebrate a festival called Traditional Flower Fair, while those in Yuanjiang celebrate a Mountain Sacrifice Festival. The Flower Fair of the first region is celebrated every 24th day of the sixth lunar month (the same day as the Torch Festival among the Nisu and Nasu) and repeated every 15th day of the seventh month of the Lunar calendar. The festival stems from an old legend in which a Han and a Lesu fell in love. Their parents strongly disagreed with the engagement, however. One night the couple went to the peak of Daxishan where they danced and sung. On that night the two committed suicide together. The festival is now held in their honor.

What are their beliefs?
The Lesu people greatly revere the Mountain god, but only those in Yuanjiang County hold a yearly day of sacrifice in order to appease him. On this day Lesu are forbidden to work in their fields for fear the mountain god will be offended.

The Lesu were a completely unevangelized and unreached people group until 1999, when a Lesu family, who helped record the first gospel recording in their language, gave their lives to Jesus Christ after considering the message.

What are their needs?
Without the guidance of Christ, these people are like sheep without a shepherd. They need the good shepherd to guide and bless their families and communities.

Prayer Points
Pray for the Lord to intervene in their families, calling people to his side.

Pray for loving workers.

Pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord of lords.

Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities.
* 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.

Operation China, Asia Harvest, Copyrighted © Used with permission

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-07-24
Global Prayer Digest: 2018-07-13
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Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Northeast
Persecution Rank:16 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Approximately 15,000 Lesu people live in dense mountain forests at least 2,300 meters (7,546 ft.) above sea level, in Xinping, Jinping, Zhenyuan, and Eshan counties of Yuxi Prefecture in southern Yunnan Province. A mere 37 Lesu reportedly live in Shaungbai County, and an additional 600 Lesu live in Shiping County of Honghe Prefecture.
(Source: Operation China, 2000)
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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: Lesu
People Name General: Lesu
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 114163
Joshua Project People ID: 18546
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 19,000
Population all Countries: 19,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General: Lesu
Ethnic Code: MSY50i
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Nisu, Eastern (19,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): nos    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.10 %(Evangelical: 0.03 %)
Ethnic Religions97.90 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious2.00 % 
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 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) 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

Lesu in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tibeto-Burman, other     Asia, Northeast    
      Lesu China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Lesu in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Nisu, Eastern  
    All Religions                              

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