The distribution of Christian materials outside of Chinese government control is one of the big no-nos in China. If anything is printed or broadcast, they want control of what is said or at the very least the "ok" its propagation. How does this really work with Christian materials?
The most important resource is the Bible, of course, so let's look into the need and possible solutions to that need. The Chinese language Bible is printed and distributed in China via the Three Self Church (the state sanctioned church). So, technically, at least, it is legal and available.
However, in China, the situation can be wildly different from area to area, and there is a possibility that in some areas it still may not be safe, for whatever reason, to go to the church and purchase a Bible. On the whole, though, the Chinese Bible is available. So, what is the problem?
The biggest problem for the Dong people is the difficulty in understanding the Bible in Chinese. The majority of middle aged Dong people would either have difficulty understanding the meaning or would not be able to read Chinese at all. Some have had Chinese education, but the Bible is more difficult than, let's say, a newspaper both in the high language used and in the sometimes hard to grasp concepts it presents.
So, can the Dong go buy a Bible? Well, if in the bigger cities, let's say yes. The better question to ask though is can they understand the Bible? Some yes, some no.
This is why there is a need for materials in Dong language. The first step would be a written Bible, but the Dong people cannot read their own language, so that would be of limited use until they can learn to read. What about an audio Bible? Good idea, and some are running with this idea, but it will necessarily have to be recorded in one dialect and the further away from that dialect it is used, the less understandable it will become.
When we look at the big picture, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Really, though, this can all be broken down into small, measurable steps. One location may use Bible stories which are shared from person to person in a very natural way. Another location may record Christian songs to be shared among the believers. And yet another may use written scripture portions as a primer to learn how to read, and thus, better understand and use the Bible in Dong.
All these ideas are being used, and we need to continue to proceed in prayer. The victory of the Gospel among the Dong people is not going to be because of our lofty prayers, but because we obey step by step as God unfolds his plan. We need to pray for those small steps.
Pray that the Lord will continue to use these small steps to bring the lost to Christ and help the believers to grow in him. Pray that the Lord will continue to encourage and help the production of the materials the Dong need.
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