Prayer Profile
The Tung of China

[IMAGE] The Tung, best known as the Dong, are a people group who live in the remote mountain valleys of south central China. They usually live along meandering streams that are found in that region. Most of the Tung reside in small villages, although a few live in larger towns.

The Tung first appeared in China somewhere between AD 960 and 1279. Some researchers think that they are probably the descendants of a group of people who lived in southern China for more than 2,000 years. Their true origin, however, is not clearly defined. They are often thought of as "water-dwellers" because their houses rest on poles over the water.

It wasn't until 1958 that the first writing system using Roman letters was developed for the Tung. However, most of them still continue to use the Chinese "ideographs," or picture words, in their written communications. Some of the ancient Chinese characters, or "pictograms," seem to indicate that the Chinese were once a culture that believed in one god.

What are their lives like?
The lovely mountain streams located near the homes of the Tung people are very significant to them. One distinctive feature of this people is their construction of elaborate bridges which are built with tiled roofs and stone arches.

Tung men are primarily agriculturists and grow rice and cotton. They also breed fish, work in forestry, and produce oil that is used in paints and varnishes. Tung women work alongside the men in the fields during planting and harvesting times. They are also skilled in weaving and embroidery work. The typical Tung girl is taught to weave and embroider when she is seven years old. About five years later, she begins working on her wedding outfit. Marriage usually occurs at the age of 17 or 18. After marriage, women live with their parents until after the birth of the first child.

One traditional Tung custom is the planting of a fir tree for each newborn baby. The trees, which are expected to mature in about 18 years, are appropriately called "18 year trees." They are then harvested and used to build houses for the newlyweds.

The Tung tend to cluster by families or as clans in villages. These villages may contain anywhere from 50 to 600 families; and, a typical village will consist of families having only one or two surnames. The village elders usually preside over local judicial matters. Traditionally only the men could inherit land, although women were given a few small plots they could cultivate.

The Tung are a very people-oriented community. When farm work is less demanding, for example, villagers and their guests assemble at the "drum tower." This is a round wooden structure built without nails and may be as tall as 30 meters (100 feet). Villagers gather around the drum tower to sing, share news, tell stories and play games. They are very fond of music and enjoy playing home-made flutes and bamboo pipes. During spring festivals, young couples who are attracted to each other will pair off and sing to each other all night.

What are their beliefs?
The Tung believe that there are many gods. They practice pantheism (the belief that laws and spiritual forces are gods) and animism (belief that non-human objects have souls). They often regard certain stones, trees, and plots of land as being sacred. Tu, a form of black magic, is also practiced by some.

One god, a "kitchen god," is worshipped during their spring and fall festivals. In the spring they ask him for steady plant growth; and in the fall, for an abundant harvest.

What are their needs?
The Tung, a people who are very aware of the spirit world, are searching for help from gods who can neither see nor hear them. They need to know that there is only one true God; a God who not only sees and hears, but who also loves them with an everlasting love.

Peoples, such as the Tung, who practice pantheism and the worship of many gods, find it very hard to lay their beliefs aside and put all of their faith into only one God.

There have been some evangelistic efforts made at reaching the Tung; however, the Bible has not yet been translated into their language. This makes it very difficult to disciple new believers.

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to send Christian workers who can translate the Bible into the Tung language.
  • Pray that the Tung will sense the emptiness in believing that stones, trees and other non-human objects will satisfy their spiritual needs.
  • Ask God to reveal Himself to the Tung through the Christians who live among them.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up many Christian laborers who have a burning desire to reach the Tung.
  • Pray that the young men and women who are searching for truth will find Jesus. Pray that they will then share this Truth with their people.
  • Pray that the "drum tower" will someday become a place where the Tung villagers gather to share of their faith in Jesus Christ and to sing songs to Him.
  • Pray that the spiritual eyes of the Tung will be opened and that their hearts will be open to the truth of the Gospel as it is presented to them.
  • Pray that a strong local church will be raised up among the Tung by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Tung
  • Country: China
  • Their language: kam
  • Population: (1990) 2,517,100
    (1995) 2,660,900
    (2000) 2,799,000
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionists 80%
    Buddhists (Mahayana) 19.8%
  • Christians: 0.1%
  • Church members: 3,193
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 3
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 535,400 (20%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 136,200 (5.1%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 399,200 (15%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 2,125,500 (79%)


  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990) 1,135,043,400
    (1995) 1,199,901,200
    (2000) 1,262,195,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese folk-religionists 17%
    Atheists 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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