YUNNAN, China – Zhang Zhaochang and Yue Yongming, ages 25 and 23 respectively, were among the 300 who turned up for the Jingpo Bible distribution ceremony at Xi An Church in Yingjiang County, Yunnan on 8 September 2013.
Zhang who is from the Jingpo ethnic minority tribe had invited his co-worker, Yue, a Han Chinese to the ceremony. Both were excited to receive the Jingpo Bible for the first time.
“I am simply overjoyed to have the Bible in my own language,” shared Zhang who attends Xi An Church and works in a jade processing workshop.
This is the second print of the Jingpo Bible. The first print was 24 years ago, in 1989. The Bible was first translated from its original language of Hebrew and Greek into the Jingpo language in 1926 in Burma, by a Swedish Baptist missionary, Ola Hanson, after 35 years of labouring among the Kachins (another name of the Jingpo tribe). Both the first and second prints of the Jingpo Bible are based on his translation.
Hanson had also developed a Kachin-English dictionary, a Kachin grammar book and translated about 200 hymns into the Jingpo language. Subsequently, in the mid 1930s, Kachin missionaries came to Yingjiang to share the gospel with the Jingpo people.
“As a result of the work of missionaries, today it is believed that 25% of the Jingpo tribe or 35,000 are Christians. But two thirds of them do not have their own Bibles,” shared Rev Mi Bingxing, Chairman of Yingjiang Christian Council and Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CC/TSPM).
“In most of the meeting points at the villages, only the pastors and preachers own a Bible. Believers could only listen to the sermons and teachings but sometimes we have difficulty following them. Now, with our own Bibles, we could study God’s Word ourselves,” shared Dao Jianfen, 46, who helps oversee the Jingpo congregation at Xi An Church.
“We are very thankful towards United Bible Societies for sponsoring the Jingpo Bibles,” said Pai Zharen, secretary of Xi An Church. “The Jingpo Bible is a symbol of God’s love for our tribe by rescuing us from the darkness and giving us His Word in our own language. It is His grace among us.”
“The Jingpo language is something close to our hearts. Reading the Bible in our own language brings us closer to God as it is the spoken language among family members and friends,” shared Jin Juhua, General Secretary of Yingjiang CC/TSPM.
Jingpo believers are also appreciative of the Jingpo Bible as it helps them to preserve their language and culture. “Nowadays, less than half of the youth know the Jingpo language. With the Jingpo Bible, our culture and language will not be extinct,” related Shang Mabao, a pastor in the Yingjiang County. Moreover, churches in Yingjiang have also started literacy classes in order to teach the Jingpo language to the younger generation so that they could also read the Word of God for themselves in their own language.
“Not only is the Jingpo Bible important to the whole tribe, it is also important for our family,” added Dao who has two children, ages 21 and 23. “I believe in bringing up my children according to the Word of God. Now I can teach Christian truths to my children at home using the Jingpo Bible. It brings the family together.”
UBS is privileged to partner Yunnan CC/TSPM in sponsoring the printing and distribution of 20,000 Jingpo Bibles in Yunnan. May the Lord use His Word to draw more Jingpo people to Himself.
Millions in China will experience life changing power from reading God’s Word if more Bibles are made available for them. If you would like to make a financial contribution towards this need, please contact us or the Bible Society in your country and designate your gift to “UBS China Partnership — Bible Distribution in China”.
Story and Photos: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Pamela Choo
2013 © United Bible Societies China Partnership