How to Evangelize Among the Shan Ethnic Tribe in Myanmar

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  • Topic: Burma, Shan, Shan State
  • Pages : 15 (6706 words )
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  • Published : March 9, 2008
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How We Can Evangelize to the Shans Ethnic Tribe in Myanmar.
REPORT ON MY VISIT TO HSIPAW (TI BAW) TOWN, THE NORTHERN SHAN STATE HSIPAW OR THIBAW: In the Shan language, it is called as Hsipaw and in the Bama language as ‘Thibaw'. The word ‘Hsi' in the Shan means four and ‘Paw' means town. The exact population of the town is probably not known. The most probable suggestion given by the town-dwellers is between 150000-200000. There lived different ethnic minorities like Shans, Lisu, Palaung, Wa, Bama, Chinese, Karen, Indians, and Dhanu – Shans being the maturity group. Both Shans and Bama languages are widely used here. The Baw Kyo Pagoda, the Shan Haw Nan, and the Dhottawaddy River are some prominent places here in this town. The Genesis of Shan People: They believed that Shans are exited from the very beginning of history or they do not have any knowledge of their beginning. They called themselves as ‘Tai' means ‘Bright or perfect', and also Shan in the Bama which derived from the original word of Siam. ‘Main Tai' is the Shan words for the Shan State and ‘Can Tai' for Shan people and ‘Coan Tai' for the Shan language. A saying goes "the genesis of Shan is from ‘Mai Maw'", and is well known in the Myanmar history and "the genesis of Shan king is from Banenaka". The word Maw in the Shan can be terms as king. They called the Shweli River as ‘Namp Maw'. There had been once nine Shan kingdoms along the River, Shweli, in the history. Therefore, today, the saying of ‘Maw Ko Pyi' in the Bama or the ninth kingdom means to refer the Shan State and territories along the River, Shweli. A Htae, one of the Shan girl in Hsipaw, said that the Shans in Myanmar had been descended from the neighboring countries like China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. She has narrated a story regarding to a group of Shans who have migrated from China. It goes something like this: Once China had been a kingdom belongs to the Shans and in that Kingdom; ‘Khon Yi Khine Kham' was the ruler. This king, who was also a mighty warrior, had a golden buffalo. He used to take his buffalo in fighting and war and there had not been a war defeated. Later, when he died, the kingdom of Shan was taken by the Chinese. And it is said that he would be reborn sometime in the future, on the day of Chinese New Year on which day was he born, to establish another Shan kingdom in one condition – when the cries of guns and war become silent. For that reason, the Chinese being so cunning in knowledge, used to blast some gunfire and paper bombs during the New Year time. Today, some Shans are still expecting their mighty warrior or Messiah to be reborn and establish their new Shan dominant Kingdom. Thus, some Shans, descended from China, to this day do not fail to mention the name of ‘Khon Yi Khine Kham' in times of praying and doing the water merits. Because of the rich history and heritages of the past, most of the Shan people have patriotic spirit, especially in the ‘Hsipaw' – the town ruled by Shan ‘Saw Boas' for generations. To my opinion, this can be the reason why they are so slow to inclining Christianity. Their community and their social environments have been so deeply rooted in their tradition and religion. ‘U Kaw Shwe' is the General Secretary of the Shan community in ‘Pyin Oo Lwin'. He comes to ‘Hsipaw' for a visit to his elder brother in Hsipaw. Regarding to the population of the Shans in Myanmar, he has this to say, "there are roughly as many as 20 million of Shans in Myanmar. But the present ruling Junta has shown us as to about 6-7 millions in the statistic for the reason to level them down of their strength in order not to offer them a distinct nation. Many Shan have to mention themselves as Bama in order to have an easier access to the national identity card, jobs, education, and the passports etc". As I inquired him of the Shan tribe, he said that there are all together eleven kinds of Shans or ‘Tais' in Myanmar. These are the following names of them:--

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