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"Preach The Gospel, Plant The Church, In South East Asia"
Eastern and Western Cham Peoples

Cham Man Plays Flute

Photo 2008 by Unknown *

Countries:  Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand

History:  The Cham were originally a part of an ancient kingdom located along the central coast of Vietnam called Champa.  Champa was a wealthy maritime nation that flourished until the late 1400’s.  In 1471 Champa was invaded by the Vietnamese.  At that time most of the Champa people fled to Cambodia.  Cambodia thrived until 1969, when war broke out between the government and the Communist Khmer Rouge.  The Khmer Rouge ruled from 1975 until 1979.  The Champa were singled out for annihilation because they practiced Islam.  It’s estimated that around 100,000 Cham were executed.  Today most of them survive by farming, fishing, and small commerce.  The soil is not fertile and the villages are poor.

Their Lives:  In Cambodia, they are mostly rice farmers but also grow cotton, maize, tobacco and a few other crops.  They also hunt and fish.  The Cham society is matrilineal (line of decent is traced through the women).  This is because more men than women were killed by the Khmer Rouge.  Women must now perform duties that once belonged to the men.  In Vietnam, the Eastern Cham live mostly in poverty, in isolated rural villages.  They need better education and healthcare.

 Scriptures:  None in their own language.  No Christian radio broadcasts and no Jesus film.  There are no known Cham churches.

 Missionaries:  There are missionaries working to reach the Western Cham in Cambodia.

Population:  Eastern Cham in Vietnam: 80,000.  Western Cham in Vietnam: 29,000. Eastern Cham in Cambodia: 200.  Western Cham in Cambodia: 217,000. Western Cham in Laos: 800.  Western Cham in Thailand: 4600


  • Vietnam – The Eastern Cham are located along the southern coast and in Ho Chi Minh City.  The Western Cham are located along the southern border near Cambodia. 

  • Cambodia – The Eastern Cham are located along the coastline of southern Vietnam.  The Western Cham are located along the Mekong River and near  Cambodia’s major cities  including Phnon Penh.

  • Laos – The Western Cham are located near Vientiane, the  capital city.

  • Thailand – The Western Cham are probably located near the southern border.

Language:  Eastern Cham and Western Cham.  These two languages share only limited mutual intelligibility.

Religion:  The ancient beliefs of the Cham were of ‘Mother Goddess’ and ‘Earth Mother’ which tied the people to the soil.  In the fourth century Indian traders brought the Hindu religion and many converted to Hinduism.  Soon after that there was a gradual rise in Buddhism.  In 1421 a Muslim leader from Malaysia went to the Champa and the Champa king converted to Islam.  After his conversion he declared Islam to be the official religion of the Cham.  In Vietnam most of the Cham are still Hindu.  Both Hinduism and Islam are mixed with their old ethnic religions making it more of a folk religion.

Christian %:  

  • Vietnam:  Eastern Cham 5% adherent and 1.09% evangelical.  Western Cham  - < 5.0% adherent and < 0.01% evangelical.

  • Cambodia:  Eastern Cham 2 % adherent and 0.5 % evangelical. Western Cham – 0.01 % adherent and 0.01 % evangelical

  • Laos:  Western Cham < 5 % adherent and 0.0 % evangelical

  • Thailand:  Western Cham < 5 % adherent and 0.0 % evangelical

Prayer Points:

  • Pray that the Lord will send out more workers into his fields where the Cham peoples live.

  • Pray that the Lord will prepare the hearts of the Cham to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

  • Pray that the Christians who live close to the Cham will have a love for them and a burden to reach out to them.

  • Pray for spiritual strengthening of the few Cham believers. 

  • Pray that signs and wonders will follow them that believe.

  • Pray that they can again be a part of a great kingdom – one that will never end.

 * Image License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic 

Who?  What? Where?

"In a nutshell" as they say, SEAMIST works in South East Asia!  We plant churches in South East Asia.  We try to focus all our efforts and resources on reaching the least reached peoples in South East Asia.

What does "least reached" mean?  It simply means the people groups that have few or no workers reaching out to them, few or no churches or believers in Jesus Christ.  These would be the most needy of all people in the world!

Our workers are trained to use contextual methods to share the good news.  We just want everyone to know about Jesus!  Our goal is always to leave behind a New Testament church. 

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