Standing before you is a famed Drum Tower, a remarkable architectural achievement held together with groove joints instead of nails. As you admire the abundance of carvings and paintings on the multi-storied structure, music plays and a traditional song and dance begin. You are at a festival in one of the few Dong villages open to tourism.
Early mission work among the Dong began in 1910-1930 but was halted by communism when it was introduced in 1949. However, the Gospel never took a firm hold. Today only 1% of the Dong people claim Christianity. The 2020 census numbered the Dong at 3,495,993. Roughly half of them is Northern Dong and the other half is Southern Dong. While the customs and beliefs of the two groups are similar, their languages are different. The Northern Dong have no Bible.
The Dong practice Chinese folk religion. They worship their ancestors and believe in spirits and ghosts. Dong shamans use drums during rituals to appease any offended spirits.
The Dong have lived in a subtropical area of south-central China for generations. They cultivate rice, wheat, maize, sweet potatoes, cotton, and soybeans. Some raise pigs and hens. Under communism, the Dong’s standard of living has increased through the building of a solid rural infrastructure and improved education and health care. However, the Dong do not know how they can have eternal life through Jesus.