The Linxia Hui Autonomous region in Gansu Province has long been called the “Little Mecca of China”. Accounting for over 50 percent of the total population in this region 800,000 Muslims belong to the Hui, Dongxiang and Salar ethnic groups. The district has about 1,700 mosques. Of these, 100 are located in Linxia City making it the city with the most mosques in China. Every year numerous Muslims stream into Linxia on Islamic pilgrimage.
Situated in a barren desert-like region in Northwest China, Linxia was once an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Despite being on a major highway, the region’s economy has a slower rate of growth than other parts of China. This is partly due to the fact that many of the area’s youth are moving away in search of work and higher wages in other regions of China.
Hui Muslims in Linxia City, China
Today in the city one immediately notices that a large portion of the population are Hui Muslims, in fact there are equal number of Hui to Han Chinese (The Han Chinese is the predominate Chinese ethnic group). Formerly during their regional political and military dominance the Hui made Linxia one of their major bases since it was strategically located on the border of China and the Tibetan region. A large Hui mosque is located in the center of town and one can often see old Muslim men with long beards and white caps everywhere throughout the city.
In addition to the Hui, Linxia is home to the Dongxiang, a zealous Muslim people group. The Dongxiang mainly live in the town of Suonoba situated on a high ridge near the city Linxia. Some Dongxiang have green or blue eyes and fair hair, a sign of the Central Asian ancestry of this group. Reaching the Dongxiang with the Gospel is made more difficult because the city is tightly controlled by the police. The Dongxiang people are widely known as the controllers of the drug trade and the prostitution rackets in Northwest China. The Dongxiang also have the lowest literacy rate of China’s 55 official minorities. A mere 12% of adults are able to read Chinese. Overall, Linxia provides the ideal gateway to reach out to the needy Dongxiang, as well as the Hui Muslims in the city.
Christian Presence in Linxia City, China
There has been some Christian presence in Linxia since the early part of 20th century, but frustrated in their attempts to establish a church among the Hui and Dongxiang Muslims, the missionaries refocused their attention towards the more receptive Han Chinese. Today there is a small church among the Han in Linxia. Recently when the pastor was asked if there was any hope of reaching the Hui or Dongxiang in their area, he replied “It is impossible!” The small number of believers in Linxia seem to have given up all hope of reaching out to their Muslim neighbours. As a result, the vast majority of people in Linxia today have never been exposed to the Gospel.
Pray for the Muslims in China:
* Ask God to glorify his name among the inhabitants of Linxia.
* Pray that the Han Chinese people would reach out to the Hui and Dongxiang Muslims with the Gospel message (Luke 1:37).
* Pray for former Muslim Christian workers to choose Linxia as a place to reach out to and that a church would be establish among these Muslim groups.
* Pray that Christians from other parts of China would focus on Linxia for ministry and church planting.