“When I say, Lord, that I love you, I really mean this from my whole heart. Complete obedience, I give myself unto you. Please never let me turn back,” sang 20 year-old Wu Liangdong , a Bai ethnic minority lady, holding back her tears.
It was a song of love and commitment. The choir, made up of first-year students from Baoshan Bible Training Centre, wore their best suit and sang their hearts out to guests from the United Bible Societies (UBS) that day, 10 December 2010. UBS was visiting on the invitation of Yunnan Administration of Religious Affairs. UBS guests also brought with them gifts — 107 sets of Bible tools for students of the Baoshan Training Centre. Each donated set includes a Study Bible, a concise Bible dictionary, a concordance and a topical analysis of the Bible.
“When I sang this song today, I felt that I have let the Lord down. Although I say I love Him, I have not given myself fully to Him as I am often troubled by earthly matters. This song today is a reminder to me that I need to love Him more. My life, thoughts and actions, must be offered to Him. Only total surrender can be counted as loving Him,” said Wu, when asked why the song she sang touched her to the point of tears.
Wu became a Christian two years. It was her aunt who shared the gospel with her at a time when she was physically ill and depressed, unable to continue with her high-school studies. One night, she dreamt that she had to go to a place of darkness and be a light there. She did not fully understand the meaning of her dream. Subsequently,an elder of the church introduced her to Baoshan Bible Training Centre. Later, she found that this was led by the Lord. Being in the Training Centre, she was healed physically and she found peace in her heart. “The Lord was so gracious to me. After I came to the Training Centre, the Lord healed me. My heart was also at peace and I know that this is the Lord’s leading,” Wu completed her testimony.
The Baoshan Bible Training Centre is started by Rev Xu Xianzhong from Qing Hua Church in 1998, with the intention to equip more people for service in the churches around Baoshan City when he could not cope with the pastoral load single-handedly.
By the Grace of God, more and more people desiring to be trained grew rapidly. The Baoshan Training Centre moved thrice in 2001 alone before settling down officially at its current premises in 2002. Since then it has been able to offer a two-year Bible program. From its humble beginnings of providing basic Bible training in 1998, the centre has since trained and graduated more than 400 students by 2009. 22 of its top students have gone on to pursue their theological studies at one of China’s regional seminary in Sichuan Province. Currently, the centre has more than 100 students representing 15 different ethnic minority groups from Yunnan Province enrolled on its 2-year Bible program.
Another first year student who sang at the choir is Xiao Xuelin, from the Lisu ethnic minority group. Unlike Wu, Xiao is a 3rd generation Christian. He confessed jokingly that, “It was my parents who wanted me to have a theological education so they sent me to Baoshan Bible Training Center. All along I had been unsure about Christianity, being the religion of both my parents and grandparents. It was only during my studies here that I began to understand about my sins and the need for repentance. After that, I really began to check my bad temper and habits.”
Xiao and Wu beamed happily when they received their Bible gifts donated by UBS. Xiao has never seen a Christian reference book being sold before. He guessed that if he needed to buy one, he would probably have to travel to the big city Kunming which is 486 km away. “I can’t imagine how much the travel and the time taken for travelling would cost me.”
Posing with the Bible tools on the table (see picture above), Wu thanked UBS and its donors for “showing your concern for us. Thank you too for helping in the Yunnan minority language Bible translation work so that the different minority groups can come to know God.”
She later added, “These books that the United Bible Societies have donated are going to be very useful. They are going to help us understand the original intended meaning of the Bible so that we will not go wrong in our interpretation. Normally, when we have questions about the Bible, we have to ask our teachers as Bible resource books are few. There are only one study note book and a devotional book for all to share. Previously when we were doing our assignments, I had to share one reference book with 30 of my classmates. As a result, our learning progress is slow; the breadth of our understanding is limited. Hence, I am very grateful to the donors and to God for all these!”
Interviews conducted by Jacqueline Ho & YEO Tan Tan
Translated, written and photos taken by Ms. YEO Tan Tan
Edited by Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership
This story relates to Project No: 71245