The bells are a hidden, yea almost phantom, civilization. Brought from Thailand some 3000 years ago as slaves, once they were freed they retreated high up into the mountains, intending never to be contacted again. Their attempts at isolation served them well for about 800 years.
The bells have their own language, culture, and religious beliefs.
A peaceful people, they have always preferred to retreat higher up into the mountains rather than fight with other groups.
Wonderful craftsmen, the bells build houses and bridges without nails.
They are mostly farmers, but extremely poor. They work hard, but have only the sides of very steep mountains to cultivate.
The remote mountain areas have very few roads leading into them.
The bells are polytheists. In every day life, there exists among them animistic religious beliefs and practices. Benevolent and hostile spirits exist everywhere in nature. Valleys, rivers, mountains, trees, and rocks, bridges and wells, these all have spiritual significance and attending spirits must be acknowledged and taken care of in a proper way. Fears dominate many parts of their life.
According to the aged pastor of the CCC church in Nanning, in the 1930s a German pastor and wife named Delderhoff established a church among the Bells in RJ. They were there only six months before the Red Army drove them out. Delderhoff also worked in Fuli (a town?). Was Delderhoff CMA? CIM?
The same mountains which serve as a haven of protection for the Bells have also been a safe hiding place for others.
The first significant penetration of outsiders into the Bells’ world was the Long March (detailed in book “Peking” by Anthony Gray). Some details of the Long March are contained in “The Guiding Hand” and “Bosshardt” by OMF–these tell the story of Bosshardt, a China Inland missionary to Guizhou when the Long March occurred. He was a prisoner for 18 months. China Inland Mission is now OMF (Canada office, 905-568-9971).
The second significant penetration of outsiders into Bells’ world was WW II. The Red Army, having joined with Nationalists, retreated before Japanese even past Bells. Demarcation line was a north/south line which ran through Dushan. Colleges and hospitals and communities retreated with the army into Guizhou province.
Gary and Pam Whitlock were the first SBC personnel assigned to the Bells. They worked with them beginning in 1989 and resigned in April 1990.
Dixie Hunke took on for the SBC a dual assignment of the Bells and another group. She worked with both groups from August 1990 till 1993, when Y took over the Bells. Dixie retained the other group. Dixie is in the USA (August 1998) and will be at the 2bc GIC in November.
Y spent 21 years as a career in Guatemala. While on furlough in 1993 she began praying about UPG for students she was teaching at CBC in Riverside. She spoke one day in chapel at Golden Gate. A student asked why she had not gone where the good news had never been preached before. David Garrison was in the room at the time. He said he would send her info about UPG.
In praying for an UPG, she had gone down an alphabetical list until she found a name she could pronounce and remember. Bells was the first word she felt met this criteria, so she began praying specifically for them.
Due to a niece or nephew missing a school bus for a field trip, Y had to take the child to an art museum. There she saw Bells art on display.
David Garrison sent her info only on the Bells.
3.1 million have never heard the good news. Many countries where SBC has personnel have less population than this. Some twenty states have less than 3.1 million people. There are about 10 Christian Bells (1997). A four-month search turned up no more. The Lusi won 30 more Bells (1998).
Y went to the Bells as a language student. The country’s official language has four tones. The Bells language has sixteen tones.
A German scholar went to a linguistic conference in Paris and heard of this 16-tone language which had not been codified. In fact, Bell was listed as the most difficult language in the world. He has created a written script for Bell, has written a trilingual dictionary comparing Bell to two other languages, including English. This will hopefully standardize the language.
He has translated parts of book into Bell, but no one can read the language. In the meantime a Korean is working on putting parts of the new book on tape.
In 1996 floods (from Banyan River?) destroyed library books in RJ. Y and a team from Harpers Crossing group took in $1200 from Cedar Foundation.
Most Bells do not know where USA is. Some have electricity. In those areas one person will have a TV. It serves as a theater. They can pick only one channel, and it is communist controlled.
In summer 1997 Y came home on furlough. Just before she left HK, J316 reached her by phone for the first time.
Y came to 2bc September 13-14, 1997. J316 went to the big country September 29 thru October 9. On this trip he met many in HK, including Dixie and Karen. In N he met Dawn who will be in USA Nov.-Dec. 1997.
An important concept learned by J316 on this trip was that megachurches need partnerships with on-the-field persons. These on-site individuals can build a siege ramp for the armies available from the megachurches.
2bc adopted the Bells on October 15, 1997.
Y returned to HK in May 1998. She is our SC, relating to groups in the big country, and helping place there people from USA who can help get the job done.
Bells=named for an oil which comes from a tree of the same name. Oil is used in some cosmetics.
Speaking of Bells is okay. Writing is dangerous. Never associate anyone’s name with Bells. Do not use country’s name on Internet. Call it big country. This nullifies use of search engines. Never use word mission, missionary, God, church. Never put a person’s last name on anything.
What can local organizations do?
Prayer and prayer walks
Floods every year in July
Pigs and pig diseases
Medical teams are restricted in big country. They are embarrassed by their
own poor facilities. Might could train local practitioners.
Put in a small industry to create jobs that are labor intensive (eg. quilts,
Location: Area where South-East Guizhou, Western Hunan and Northeast Guangxi meet; also in Hebel. 60% of Bells live in Guizhou; 22% in Hunan, and 16 % in Guangxi.
Language: They call themselves Kam (pronounced Gum–rising tone).
Status: An official minority of China. There are at least 30 different Bell subgroups – each wearing their own costume. There is no intermarriage between people of a different costume group. Bell areas in northern Guizhou are less custurally distinct than other Bell.
Livelihood: Agriculture, forestry.
Religion: Polytheism (especially worship of the goddess); Anamism.
Bells who live in west Hunan province are least accessible. Y and Sue got thrown out. Man who tried to start a local organization lived in this area.
K–capital of Qdgnar Prefecture (subset of a province) in southeast Guizhou.
includes southern bell counties: RJ and Lpg
also northern bell counties: Ypg, Jpg, etc.
many come to K for college. Lois Stallings is here (ESL). She has studied for two years in K and is not teaching there. She is from Harpers Crossing.
Michelle Cheng (LA group) is also at K. She speaks Chinese fluently.
Tonya Niebruegge is studying Chinese at Minorities Institute in Ggyg.
While J316 was in big country in 1997 AP of cat people fame saw westerners from Harpers Crossing visiting Bells in K. These visitors were staff member Keith Turner, M of E, plus two laypersons, Ted Lee with Dunkin Donuts, and Tammy. Keith got arrested videotaping. The latter were prayerwalking with Lois and Michelle.