The Moken (also known as the Salong) people group are a nomadic, seafaring people numbering around 6,000. Known as the “Sea Gypsies” of Southeast Asia, they live on the Mergui Archipelago, a group of 800 islands claimed by both Myanmar and Thailand. They have their own language known as Austronesian, but are usually able to speak the majority language of their respective locations. Many Moken died in the tsunami of 2004, while others were able to see the signs of its coming and were able to survive. A mere 0.05% of the Moken population are Christian. Their only known traditional religious practice is ancestor worship.
Nick Liguori, author of Echoes of Ararat, records their oral stories. They believe in one Creator God who made everything. His Name, in their language, is Tooda. Their oral history tells the story of a severe flood in ancient times. Liguori recounts, “After the deluge, of which the Salongs preserve a distinct and unique tradition, God came down from heaven, and assigned to the different nations and tribes of men their habitations and employments. He said to the Salongs, ‘You are foolish and disobedient. You must not possess gold, silver, domestic animals, houses nor lands. Go, be poor, and hunt fish in water seven fathoms deep.’”
Naw Say Bay, an anthropologist and Bible translator, worked amongst this people group starting in 1974. How the Moken Got Their Book, a book recording her missions work, has been published and is circulating in both Burmese and English. In an interview with Angeline Koh, she explains why she decided to learn the Moken language and work to translate the Bible for them. “The way I feel about the Moken Sea Gypsies is the feeling God puts into my heart, because one morning… I saw some Moken boats going back to our island, and in the morning sunlight I looked, and then I cried. I don’t know how, what overwhelmed me, that I just loved them and wanted them to know their Creator, my Creator.” Over her years of service, they completed a translation of the New Testament. It is because of the Lord’s work through her that some Moken people now know the Lord.
1. Pray that, as Moken people meet Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, both in the Bible and in their daily reality, they would recognize Him as the One their oral history tells them about.
2. Pray the Lord would send more believers from Thailand and Myanmar to share the story of God with this people, all the way from Creation to Christ.