"So, why can't the Dong people just use the Chinese Bible?" Good question. The majority of Dong people do speak Chinese, so it is a reasonable question. We have talked through this issue before, and there is more information to be found on the General Info page, but a recent e-mail to DongTeam serves as an excellent reminder of the needs among the Dong people and also shares a couple requests:
The reason Dong people have difficulty understanding the Chinese Bible is that the 1919 Union Version ('he he ben') uses a very literary style, which differs in many regards from the ordinary speech people use nowadays. Generally Han people find the style of the Union Version beautiful, whereas minority people struggle with the language.
The Dong language has been an oral language for centuries. The government sponsored a romanized script in the 1950s, but it has achieved only semi-official recognition. Nevertheless, recurrent literacy campaigns have produced a certain number of functional or near-functional literates among the Dong people.
The full New Testament in the Dong language was published in early 2006 (visit this entry online for a link to buy this Bible, if you are interested). The initial reaction has been positive and there appears to be great interest to learn more about the Christian faith. Let us pray for workers of the kingdom who will show these people how the scriptures can be applied to their lives.