According to their legends, the Tibetan people were created by the union of a monkey an ogress. This people group is diverse based on region and are geographically located in southwestern China and the Himalayas. Though there are many separate groups, most Tibetans assert they are one people. Within the Tibetan language, there are at least five dialects. Tibetans are deeply rooted in Buddhism. They believe that their patron saint is Chenrezig who has 11 heads and anywhere from 2 – 1,000 arms. Tibetans combine Buddhism with their ancient polytheistic faith, which involves magic, divination, demon worship, and sacrifices.
Engagement // What’s Happening Now
Most Tibetans are Buddhist and often practice rituals that are demonic in nature. Russ Turney states that to “reach Buddhists with the message of Jesus believers must be present on both local and personal levels”.
In the article, “A Call to Obedience,” Victor Plymire and his son David went on a missionary journey to China that would result in a 100-year span of ministry focusing on the Tibetan people. In the early years, Victor ministered to many Tibetans, and in 1924 after 16 years of ministry, Victor baptized his first convert. Victor took New Testaments to share with the tribal leaders and religious leaders.
David was born in 1931. One day when David was a teenager, worshippers knelt in a row outside the monastery during a Tibetan festival. The monks would come by with an image they believed would bear their illness, evil, and trouble. The image would pass over the heads, and then it would be thrown into the fire and burned. Seeing this scene, David broke into tears, and the Spirit spoke to him, “This is why you are coming back.” After Victor’s death, David continued his father’s ministry to the Tibetans for 52 years.
Sustainability // The Bigger Story
Tibetans have since antiquated and have been a challenge for Christian engagement. Earliest accounts of Christians in Tibet refer to before 1000 AD. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, said, “To make converts in Tibet is similar to going into a cave and trying to rob a lioness of her cubs.”
Tibetans are listed as one of the APOSTOLOS Priority 31 groups, which are primary people groups targeted for engagement. APOSTOLOS encourages believers to participate in engagement by becoming an advocate.
Partnership // Move Beyond
Please spend a few minutes in prayer for:
- Though a foundation was laid by the Plymire’s, most Tibetan people have never heard the gospel. Pray that more workers will go to minister among the numerous Tibetan tribes.
- Pray that God would reveal himself and set free the Tibetan people involved in divination and demonic practices.
- Pray for the few Tibetan Christians there are, that God will encourage them and empower them to reach other Tibetans.