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Ben in China


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
1,400 Wa, Vo Ethnic Religions 0.10 % 0.00 % No   

Ben in China

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Although the Ben are a distinct people group, since the 1950s they have been officially counted as part of the Wa nationality. The Ben are not happy with this classification and unsuccessfully applied to be recognized as a distinct minority. Missionary John Kuhn was the first to document the existence of the Ben in 1945, describing them as "a Burmese tribe." The Ethnologue describes the Ben as an unidentified group living near the Achang. Another scholar lists the Ben as one of many small groups in China "which need further investigation." The name Ben may simply mean "indigenous people."

The Ben are one of several fragments of the original Mon-Khmer group many centuries ago. One author notes, "The Austro- Asiatics, including the Wa and Palaung [De'ang], spread over Yunnan before the arrival of the Dai and Yi. They were driven out of their original habitat by invaders, dispersed and split into the isolated groups which they are today." Originally the forests where the Ben live were occupied by bears, deer, and wild pigs, but they have now been largely hunted to extinction. Today most Ben grow rice and vegetables.

The Ben live in a region abundant with natural resources such as coal, copper, iron, lead, and graphite. Young Ben men and women are free to choose their own partners. After the sun sets, a young man will go to the home of the young woman he desires and play musical instruments to win her favor. A few generations ago marriages were arranged by parents, which often led to misery for Ben youngsters. The Ben knew little of hygiene until recently. In 1956 bars of soap were first sold in the district. Many dissatisfied customers returned to the shop demanding a refund, complaining about the soap's awful taste!

The Ben are animists, although they also have traces of Theravada Buddhism from the influence of neighboring groups. Ben funerals are scheduled on Buddhist holy days. The funeral procession is headed by a Buddhist monk who walks at the front of the people and holds a long piece of white cloth tied to the coffin. The Ben believe the monk is leading the soul of the dead person into the next life.

There are no known Christians or churches among the Ben; however, many of the neighboring Wa have converted to Christianity. The Ben who, though numerically small, are an unreached people in desperate need of Christ.

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Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Northeast
Persecution Rank:23 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:The Ben are a small group, numbering approximately 1,100 people in several villages within Zhenkang and Gengma counties in western Yunnan Province. They live alongside the Wa and Lahu minority groups.
(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: Ben
People Name General: Ben
Alternate People Names:
Ben Ren
ROP3 Code: 114008
Joshua Project People ID: 18414
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 1,400
Population all Countries: 1,400
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
People Name General: Ben
Ethnic Code: AUG03z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Wa, Vo (1,400 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): wbm    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism5.00 % 
Christianity0.10 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions93.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious1.90 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent100.00 %
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 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: 2007
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 2016
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project ...
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Wa, Vo
Film / VideoThe Hope Video
Text / Printed MatterBible: Wa Common Language Translation
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Ben in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Mon-Khmer     Asia, Northeast    
      Ben China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Ben in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Wa, Vo  
    All Religions                              

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