Tibetan in France

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People Name: Tibetan
Country: France
10/40 Window: No
Population: 7,900
World Population: 1,134,000
Primary Language: Tibetan, Central
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Tibetan
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Written records of Tibetan history have survived from the seventh century AD, but it is known that nomadic tribes roamed Tibet as early as the second century BC. The cradle of Tibetan civilization is the Yarlung Valley area, about 80 kilometers (49 mi.) southeast of Lhasa. There, according to tradition, the union of a monkey and a she-devil created the Tibetan peoples. Around AD 600 the warrior-king of Yarlung, Namri Gampo, unified the clans of Tibet. He acquired a princess from Nepal and another one from China to be his wives. Under the persuasion of these two women, he combined the ancient shamanistic Tibetan religion of bon with Buddhist teachings.
Although the Tibetans strongly maintain they are one people and are opposed to any attempts to classify them as separate groups, the Tibetan nationality clearly divides into numerous linguistic components. Central Tibetan—which contains five dialects—is more commonly known as central Bus (transliterated from U, the spoken version of the same word). Educated people from other areas of Tibet traditionally retained their local variety and learned the literary variety of Central Tibetan.
Tibet is a mountainous land located just north of India. In 1950, the Chinese communists invaded Tibet. However, the Dalai Lama (religious and political ruler of Tibet) was permitted to remain their leader. While negotiations were being made between Tibetan and Chinese officials, Communist Chinese Party continued to oppress the Tibetans. In 1959, a revolt broke out in Lhasa, Tibet's capital. During the night, the Dalai Lama set out on a dangerous journey to India. His family, along with some cabinet members, personal officials, and bodyguards, fled with him. Thousands of Tibetans followed their leader and today, over 100,000 of them remain exiled in northern India.
From India, those who are given the chance move to European countries like Belgium, Germany, France, the UK, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. English speaking countries like the US, Canada and Australia have also taken in Tibetans.

What Are Their Lives Like?

There are at least nine Tibetan organizations in Europe. They meet yearly and make statements about their commitment to Tibetan sovereignty. Periodically one hears about Tibetans protesting Tibet's treatment in various parts of Europe. The best the European governments can do is issue statements to the Chinese government and take in more Tibetan refugees. In some European countries, there are Tibetan studies programs in universities.
Tibetans in Europe strive to keep their culture and religion alive with the younger generation. For that reason, they established a youth organization. It was founded in 1970. Students learn the language, culture and religion of Tibet.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Tibetan Buddhist religion is the lifeblood of the Tibetan people and their culture. Buddhism was mixed with the powerful Tibetan religion of Bon, which is a mixture of magic, divination, demon worship, and sacrifices. The patron saint of Tibet is Chenrezig, whose image has up to 11 heads and from 2 to 1,000 arms.
Tibet has long been one of the greatest challenges for Christianity. In 1892 Hudson Taylor said, "To make converts in Tibet is similar to going into a cave and trying to rob a lioness of her cubs." Timothy, the Nestorian patriarch in Baghdad (778-820), referred to Christians in Tibet and indicated he was willing to assign a missionary to them. There is very little if anything left of this effort. Tibetans in Tibet are trying their best to maintain their culture and religion, so "foreign" ideas like the gospel are strongly resisted.
In France, Tibetans have the freedom to hear and respond to the gospel. There will be much opposition to evangelists by those who think that "conversion to Christianity" is a cruel way to deprive Tibetans of their culture. We know of no Tibetans in France who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Needs?

Tibetans the world over need to put their identity and their hope in Jesus Christ. This will be especially difficult given that Christ challenges all cultures and individuals to change. It will be hard for Tibetans in exile to give us aspects of their culture (i.e., religion) when their culture is in danger of annihilation.
Tibetans need to hear the gospel of Christ which gives life to the full. It will take a certain kind of worker, one who is willing to endure intense hostility from the Tibetans and from the local people. Others will need to faithfully pray for these workers to stand firm. Eventually Christ will be known and embraced by Tibetans.

Prayer Points

Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Tibetan communities in France.
Pray for the Tibetan people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Tibetan people to change their society from within.
Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers disciples to make more disciples.

Text Source:   Joshua Project