The Dondo of Indonesia
Located on the northwestern peninsular of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, the 15,800 Dondo are a sub-group of a much larger people group known as the Tomini. Their name is a geographic and linguistic designation, and their close neighbors include the Gorontalo, the Buol, and the Kwandang. Other sub-groups of the Tomini include the Tolitoli, the Laudje, and the Dampelas.
It was formerly thought that all of the Tomini languages were mutually intelligible and that the different names merely referred to their dialects. However, recent research indicates that each group forms its own separate language. The various Tomini languages probably resulted from the numerous trading empires that remained isolated from each other until the arrival of Islam in the 1500's. Tomini cultural history can be divided into four periods: the coming of Islam, the Dutch colonial period, Japanese occupation, and post-independence. Because the Tomini were bypassed by the Dutch missionaries, they have remained strong in their Islamic character.
What are their lives like?
Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse populations, with more than 300 distinct people groups, many of whom are Muslim. The history of the region is one of the rise and fall of petty kingdoms and their occasional union for purposes of defense and conquest. It seems likely that the region was originally inhabited by the Toradja peoples.
Traditionally, the Tomini (of which the Dondo are a sub-group) were governed by a sultanate, with each tribe being headed by a hereditary chief and his council of assistants. Four classes existed: the royalty, the nobility, the commoners, and the former slaves. After achieving independence, some of the former rajas (kings) and their families found positions in government, while others became businessmen.
In the late 1950's, Sulawesian youth led separatist movements against the Indonesian government. In the Tomini region, this peaked with the Permesta Rebellion of the 1960's. For several years thereafter, the area produced no marketable items. Since that time, the government has made an effort to improve the economy. Cloves were successfully introduced on plantations, and lumber firms were also begun.
The coastal Dondo are very active in clove production, as well as in copra (dried coconut meat yielding oil) and palm plantations. Many earn their living as traders, while others work as lumberjacks or sailors. The highland Dondo cultivate dry rice, maize, and sago (a type of palm), and gather rattan for coastal trade.
Dondo villages, which are located mainly on the coastal strips, are small and consist of houses built on stilts. Marriage ceremonies follow a Muslim pattern and are arranged by a mediator. This "go-between" also negotiates the bride-price, the amount of which is dependent on the girl's social status. Marriages between cousins are preferred. Although polygyny (having more than one wife) is permitted, it is rarely practiced among the Dondo. Once married, a couple usually lives with his or her family until the first child is born.
What are their beliefs?
Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia today and is practiced by a majority of the population. Before the fourteenth century, Hinduism was widespread in the area, but is now practiced by only a small number of people. About 14% of Indonesia's population is Christian, primarily Protestant; and many Chinese follow Buddhist-Taoist teachings. Animistic religions (belief that non-living objects have spirits) are followed by tribes in remote areas.
The Dondo are mainly Muslim, though there are small groups of animists in the mountain areas. The animists are known as suku terasing, meaning "foreign tribes," and they have been the object of government programs, including relocation.
What are their needs?
Although there are several hundred Dondo believers, they have very few Christian resources necessary for church growth or evangelism. Prayer and missionary effort are still required for the small Dondo Church to be firmly established.
- Ask the Lord to call full-time missionaries to go to Indonesia and work among the Dondo.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will soon be made available to the Dondo.
- Ask the Lord to raise up linguists to translate the Bible into the Dondo language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to open the spiritual eyes of the Dondo to the Truth of the Gospel.
- Pray that God will give the Dondo believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Dondo bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Indonesia through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Dondo church for the glory of His name!
See also the following Group:
The Tomini of Indonesia
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Dondo
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Dondo
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 2%
- Church members: 320
- 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: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,900 (25%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,900 (75%)
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 113
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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