JIANGSU, China – Liu Wei, 40, a Han Chinese grew up in Urumqi where Han Chinese are a minority. When he was 15 years old, he borrowed a book about the Bible from the library. This sparked his curiosity about the Bible even though he had no idea what Christianity was about. Unfortunately, this was 1988 where Bibles were in great shortage in China and even more so in the Xinjiang province.
So curious Liu decided to look for a Bible to read. He knew of a friend who was from a Christian family but his friend could not lend him a Bible as he did not have a spare. Instead, his friend brought him to church and Liu was inspired by the sermons he heard. At church, young Liu aspired to be a pastor.
It took another two years before Liu owned his first Bible. In 1990, his church, Mingdelu Church had Bibles for sale and Liu bought his first Bible. Liu remembers fondly that he did not sleep the first night. He read the first three books of the Bible. From the creation of the world to God handing the laws to the Israelites. Looking back, Liu thinks reading the Bible was nothing short of a miracle too. His generation was schooled to read and write in the simplified script but the Bible he bought was in the traditional script. Yet, he had no difficulty in reading the Bible.
His interest and growing involvement in church eventually led him to study at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary (NJUTS). Liu remembers visiting Amity Printing Press (APC) twice as a student. The first time was in 1992 but it was his second visit in 1994 that left him with a deep and lasting impression.
During his second APC visit, he became aware that the Bible was being printed in different languages. This was an epiphany for him. It suddenly dawned on him the potential significance of the Bible if one could read the Bible in one’s own language. Perhaps it was his upbringing in Xinjiang where there are at least seven ethnic groups in that region. This eureka moment would cause Liu to cement his decision to take up Biblical studies. Now, Liu aspired to be a Bible translator.
Liu’s heart for God’s Word is unmistaken. He feels that God has bestowed him with the gift of picking up languages with ease. He learnt Biblical Hebrew and Greek without much difficulty. His interest in Biblical Greek and Hebrew remains unwaning. Liu is currently teaching New Testament classes at NJUTS, and he says he has no regrets. Though he is still interested in translation work, he is more than happy to train the ethnic students in his classes to learn Biblical Greek well so that they can be better equipped to do translation work. From aspiring pastor to Bible translator to New Testament teacher, Liu’s current vocation is indeed moulding many future leaders, pastors and Bible translators included.
Liu Wei is a New Testament lecturer at the prestigious Nanjing Union Theological Seminary where the United Bible Societies currently support the Seminary in funding their Bible teacher.
Story and photo: Jenise Lee
Edited: Pamela Choo
2013 © United Bible Societies China Partnership