The Bisayan Tutong of Brunei
The nation of Brunei, whose full country name means "Abode of Peace," is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The Bisayan Tutong live along the banks of the Limbang River, east of Bisaya and south of Tutong-2, and into northern Sarawak. They are known as "the people of the hills."
The Bisayan are culturally diverse and live in small groups interspersed among other peoples. They have adapted many of their cultural features from these peoples. Little is known of their history, but they are known to have descended from the Malay peoples.
Their language, Tutong-1, is part of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian linguistic family. The name Tutong refers to a river near where they live. In general, their reputation is a violent one. There was much inter-tribal warfare in the past, and the Bisayan warriors beheaded their enemies to gain power.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Bisayan Tutong live in permanent villages stretched along the river banks, consisting of 30 to 200 people. They do have village squares, but there are no public buildings, only rice granaries. The Bisayan Tutong live in small, long rectangular houses built on stilts 10 to 15 feet above the ground. Three or four families usually live together under one roof, though in the past, as many as seven or more families shared living quarters.
The diet of the Bisayan Tutong consists of rice and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Most houses have a small garden to supply food necessities. Both wet and dry rice are cultivated in swiddens (burned clearings), and other crops, such as chilies, corn, cucumbers, yams, gourds, and pumpkins are also grown. In cultivation, the Bisayan Tutong use a tool called a dibble stick for plowing rather than a plow.
There are some Bisayan Tutong who fish, but hunting in the lush vegetation of the hills tends to be more important. The forests yield considerable timber, rubber, rattan (palms with stems that are used for wickerwork), and other products. Extensive mineral deposits also exist, but exploitation is hindered by poor transportation. The men are skilled in carpentry and woodcarving but have never learned to smelt metal. The women tend to the house and gardens, and gather ferns, fruits, and medicinal plants. Having never learned to weave, the women trade with the Chinese for cloth, metal goods, and pottery.
Medical and educational services are relatively well developed and are largely financed by revenues from petroleum production. Education is free, but instruction is provided only in Malay, English, or Chinese.
What Are Their Beliefs?
All of the Bisayan Tutong converted to Islam a great many years ago. Yet, many old customs linger, especially among those of the older generation who never attended school. Although the villagers have become Muslim, they still hold occasional ceremonies to appease the spirits that are believed to be associated with a collection of skulls from their headhunting days.
Burial procedures include placing objects on the grave for the use of the departed in the next life. The site is sheltered by a small open wooden hut. In a hill-top Bisayan graveyard in Tutong District, one can spot interesting items that have been highly valued by the departed. As opposed to the traditional man-made items such as spears, one can now find rusting foot-operated sewing machines, run-down wall clocks, and other machine-made items, such as tin plates, glass cups, and store bought shirts on wire hangers.
What Are Their Needs?
There are no portions of Scriptures in the native language of the Bisayan Tutong. These people need willing workers who will go to Brunei and commit to sharing the Gospel with them.
Their national anthem, Brunei darussalam, means "God Save Brunei," and that is exactly what they need—to be saved out of the clutches of Islam and brought into the light of the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to reap a mighty harvest of souls among the Bisayan Tutong of Brunei.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the two missions agencies that are targeting the Bisayan Tutong.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Bisayan Tutong through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Bisayan Tutong believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Bisayan Tutong bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Bisayan Tutong.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Bisayan Tutong church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Bisayan Tutong
- Country: Brunei
- Their language: Tutong
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 5%
- Church members: 813
- 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: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 4,700 (29%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,600 (71%)
- Country: Brunei
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 11
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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