BEIJING, China – The month of November heralds the end of autumn and the start of winter. In the midst of this transition of seasons, the campus of the China Catholic National Seminary was abuzz with activity on 10 November 2015. Many had gathered to witness a momentous celebration taking place that afternoon to commemorate 20 years of Bible ministry partnership between UBS and the Catholic Church in China. Leading the UBS delegation of 21 members was, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, member of the UBS Global Council.
The UBS partnership with the National Catholic Church began in 1994 with the funding of Bible paper for Bible printing and distribution. In his speech, Mr Kua Wee Seng, UBS China Partnership Director, recounted how he, with the help of the China Protestant Church leader, connected with the China Catholic Church leader, Mr Liu Bainian, in 1994, to explore UBS partnership with the China Catholic Church.
They spoke over the phone and reached an agreement. Soon after, UBS funded the Bible paper and arranged for printing of 50,000 copies of Bible for the China Catholic Church. Since then, more than 1.6 million copies of Bible and 1.2 million copies of the New Testament (NT) have been printed with UBS support.
Miracles after Miracles
In view of these milestones in Chinese Catholic Bible printing blessed by God, it was most apt that the opening hymn of the celebration service was Amazing Grace. The Chairman of the China Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CCBC) and President of the China Catholic National Seminary, Bishop Ma Yinglin in his opening speech attested to this fact saying, “Today’s celebration is no ordinary event. It is a beautiful testimony of how parties from different countries, churches and denominations came together because of their common Book of faith – the Bible, to form a partnership that sought to invigorate the spiritual life and development of the Church through the printing and distribution of the Bible.
“On this beautiful thanksgiving day that the Lord blesses and delights in, I firmly believe that this is the amazing grace the Lord has granted us, it is He who has called each one of us; it is the love of Christ that compels us; it is the Lord who has joined our hands together to established His work in China, miracles after miracles.
Over the past 20 years, the Studium Biblicum Version Bible (used by the China Catholic Church) have been printed and distributed to churches, chapels, families, believers and those interested in the Bible in 31 provinces and autonomous regions in Mainland China. These Bibles have blessed millions of believers and Bible readers, encouraging and exhorting multitudes with teachings from the holy Gospel, bringing comfort and strength through faith for generations to come. This is a remarkable monumental work, a miracle made possible only by the grace and blessing of God.”
UBS Global Council member, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who was visiting China for the first time, spoke about the role of the Bible in China in his speech, “In UBS, at both global and local levels, we can see how the Word of God has become an effective ecumenical instrument.
The Bible played an important role in the sad story of the division of the Christian Church. By divine providence and grace, the same Bible is now playing an important role in bringing the divided churches closer together. This has been the experience of the Church in China.”
The Cardinal was also full of praise for the host of the event, “I thank God for this opportunity to have a glimpse of the Catholic Church in China. It is a Church about which we have been hearing a lot for many years. I must confess that what I have seen and heard in these few days far exceeds my expectations. The Lord Jesus never ceases to surprise us.”
On to Greater Heights
Besides the Bible printing project, UBS has also supported the Catholic Church in other aspects of ministry. Bishop Yang Xiaoting, Vice-Chairman of CCBC had described in his welcome speech how the seminary in recent years has emphasised more on the centrality of the Bible as the foundation and origin of the Church’s statement of faith. The close study and comprehension of the Bible has therefore been the focus and core of its curriculum.
As a result of this approach, the seminary has been recognized throughout the country as an important training base for future priests and church leaders. The graduates of the seminary who have gone on to serve in churches all over China have carried out their ministry with such efficacy that their effort has brought good repute to the seminary.
In 2012, as a support of the institution’s Bible-centered emphasis, UBS donated a few thousands of Bible reference books, some computers with Bible software as well as furniture to set up a Bible Resource Room (BRC) in the seminary, which opened for use at the end of 2014.
Just as the passage of time moves the seasons along, so may God use the preceding 20 years of collaborative partnership with UBS to serve and encourage the Chinese Catholic Church on to greater heights in outreach and Christian service.
It is therefore fitting to close with these words from Bishop Ma Yinglin’s speech, “Thanksgiving is the beginning of new grace. We trust God is meticulously caring for and watching over His flock in China. May we continue to support this blessed work that has been started, pressing on after this celebration service to deepen our fellowship and open up new frontiers of partnership in ministry.”
See photos of the thanksgiving here.
Story: Angela Teo
Edited: Cynthia Oh
Photo: UBS CP
2015 © United Bible Societies China Partnership