Soon after China fell to the Communists in 1949, missionaries had to leave Mainland China and ethnic language Bible translation work in Mainland China led by the missionaries ceased.
Thankfully, some local Christians took up the challenge of working on the Bible translation for their respective languages, especially after the Cultural Revolution, but their works were not officially recognized by the authorities until the early 2000s when the United Bible Societies managed to secure the permission to support the (legally recognized) China Church in the ethnic language Bible translation work.
But, recent developments in China suggests that the open door to the legally approved ethnic language Bible translation in China may be closing. At the moment, we are still allowed to serve and support the China Church in ethnic Bible ministry, but our Church partners are finding it increasingly difficult to continue their ministry and there are growing constraints in our support of the Church.
We are not sure when the policy may further tighten and restrict the Church's ethnic Bible ministry and our partnership with China Church in this ministry.
So, we should strike while the iron is hot and make hay while the sun shines, and do what we can while we can to support the China Church in their ethnic Bible translation work.
Having a Bible in Mandarin Won't Cut it
Suangen lives high in China's Cloudy Mountains, where the air is thin. Where the mist rolls in thick. Where he says he feels close to God. "One of my favorite passages is the one that says that God is the creator of heaven and earth," says Guangen. "We feel that in this area, God speaks Black Yi-one of China's minority languages."
China's national language is Mandarin Chinese, but China's Education Ministry reports that approximately four hundred million people-or 30 percent of the population-don't speak it. For people like Guangen from China's ethnic minority groups, having a Bible in Mandarin won't cut it For years, Guangen longed to hear from God in his heart language: the same language he prays in, barters in, and uses to coax his chickens out to eat Finally, one day, Guangen heard a beautiful rumor that the town's pastor was going to deliver the Word of Life in Black Yi. Could it be that God would meet us here, all the way up in the mountain, 9,000 feet above sea level?
A lot has changed in China since the Cultural Revolution. But one thing hasn't: Bibles are still as precious as ever. It might sound small to you, but a shipment of 20 Bibles to the Cloudy Mountains of China made a big difference to the residents there. Can you envision those believers waiting up at midnight? They were huddled in churches, watching the door, waiting for Pastor Wenfu to arrive with the Bibles that had been translated into their native tongue, Black Yi.
There weren't enough Bibles for everyone that night. But that put no damper on their enthusiasm The community was happy to share copies, just to read what God had to say to them in their tongue. "Everyone wanted to read it," Guangen reports. "We were all very excited to have our own copies of the Bible." Community members held out their hands, tears streaming down their cheeks, eager to receive their treasure, their 20 Bibles. Your prayers and gifts translated, printed, and distributed these Black Yi Bibles-and 10,000 more!