Who are the Iu Mien?

The Iu Mien, Mien or Mienh, of Southeast Asia originate from China and were numbered as part of the greater “Yao” ethnicity.  They are still sometimes referred to by outsiders as “Yao.”  The Mien people are mostly rural, primarily found living in a window of mountainous jungle straddling the southern provinces of China, northern Thailand, Laos and northern Vietnam.

The Mien are predominantly upland farmers who have traditionally lived in the highlands and cultivated opium.  In recent times some have migrated to lower elevations and cities, though many still live in the mountains engaging in slash-and-burn agriculture, planting upland crops such as rice, corn and Job’s tears.  Traditional Mien houses are simple bamboo structures built on the ground.  A few wealthy Mien have built large modern houses.

Mien Woman in Traditional Dress

Altogether there are around 1,400,000 Mien living in Southeast Asia, with over a million in China, over 300,000 in Vietnam, 45,000 in Thailand and 20,000 in Laos.  The vast majority of the refugee Mien population in the USA and other western countries originate from Laos.  Three of the four countries where the Mien live in Southeast Asia are communist (China, Vietnam and Laos) and as a result, restrict ministry access.

Mien traditional religion is a mixture of ancestor worship, animism and Taoism.  Of these three elements, ancestor worship is the most important, though the Mien constantly live in fear of the spirits.  Mien people depend upon shamans as their priests to perform religious ceremonies to heal sickness, conduct funerals, or to bless houses, births and marriages.  Like many animistic religions, the Mien traditional religion has little to do with morality, but is more concerned with luck, health and prosperity.

Mien men participating in animistic rituals.

Please pray for these special people whom God loves.  Pray that he performs signs and wonders among them and pours out his grace.  Pray that a church multiplication movement ignites among the Mien until every last village in Southeast Asia has at least one church of transformed and passionate Mien believers!