Black Yi Book of Genesis “God’s Best Gift for Me” – Li Bencong, a Black Yi Christian from Yunnan Province, China

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“Black Yi”
is an alternative name for the Central Luoluopo people. The language is also known as Central Yi. According to Joshua Project, there are 412,000 people who can speak this language.

(source: Joshua Project http://www.joshuaproject.net/peopctry.php?rog3=CH&rop3=114184 )

The Black Yi New Testament is published by CCC/TSPM. The Old Testament is still being translated.

A group of Black Yi Bible translators at work. Photo UBSCP/ Yeo Tan Tan
The Black Yi New Testament published by CCC/TSPM.

The production of a reliable translation of the bible requires long-term commitment from supporters and diligent translators alike. Resources are needed to produce a first draft, followed by extensive discussions, amendments and checks against the bible in the original languages. We see people waiting patiently, at the same time eagerly, for the Bible in their own language. What would these people give to see the Word of God translated? How will bible translation work affect a people group?

Below is the testimony of a Black Yi Christian in Yunnan Province, Li Bencong, who has read a draft copy of the book of Genesis in the Black Yi language. As a lay person, he understands the importance of bible translation and the effectiveness of reaching out to the people he loves in the language that they understand. He demonstrated how he treasures the Word of God, and spoke about the many blessings the bible translation work have brought to him and the Church in Yunnan Province, China. All glory be to God!

(In June 2010, UBS China Partnership website also featured a testimony of a Black Yi bible translator, Zhang Xuecai (see: www.ubscp.org).)

Black Yi Christians have for generations live in the remote mountains of Yunnan Province, China. Many, especially women, have little or no education. The Black Yi people currently have the New Testament in their own language. It is published by the China Christian Council and National Committee of the Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Church in China (CCC/TSPM). Without the Old Testament, their pastors or elders have to refer to the verses in the Chinese bible, they struggle to comprehend. The frustration of not being able to interact with God’s word personally is painful.

God’s Best Gift
“A few years ago, I heard that a team of brothers in Luquan County have begun translating the old testament into our Black Yi language. It has always been our dream to catch a glimpse of this translation. When the day finally came, we could not contain our excitement and joy when we can read from this little book which is a draft copy of Genesis.”

“We can now have a better understanding of what our pastor has taught us. It is like God has finally spoken. He is really speaking to us now. We have found out for ourselves more details from the book of Genesis. For example, How God called Abraham. How Abraham obeyed and loved God.

His beloved son was born to him only when he was 100 years old. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, he did not hesitate to offer his son as a living sacrifice. Compared Abraham’s faith and love for God with ours, we are ashamed that we have so little faith. We also read about the creation of the world. How Adam and Eve sinned; the events of Sodom and Gomorrah; the lives of Jacob, Esau and Joseph…. there are just too many beautiful things for our eyes to behold.”

“I have the draft copy of Genesis with me for sometime now. It is my treasure! I know this is God’s best gift for me. The Lord knows the weaknesses of His children and the needs of those whose heart yearn for Him.”

Read Consistently
“At night, I will read it under a lamp. In the day, when I tend to my sheep in the mountains, I will read on the grassland. Sometimes, I will read silently. Other times, I will read out loud for others to hear. Our Heavenly Father has given me this draft not just for my own spiritual nourishment but also for me to share the Good News with those around me. When I read out in our Black Yi language, both young and old could understand. The translation of the Black Yi Bible is important for the understanding of the gospel by our own community people.”

God is Praised
“When non-believers heard that the bible is being translated into our language, they view the Church positively. They feel that the Church has a lot of potential and have asked if we could help to translate scientific books for them after the Black Yi bible translation is completed. For example, books on scientific farming that will benefit the farming community.”

“There are many non-believers who could only read in the Black Yi language. It is our wish that not so long into the future, we will have the full 39 books of the old testament in our hands. The Black Yi bible will become an important part of our cultural heritage one day. May the Lord richly bless the Black Yi bible translation work!”

The above testimony is written in Chinese by Li Bencong.
This article is written, and, testimony translated by:
Ms YEO Tan Tan, Program Manager
United Bible Societies, China Partnership