YUNNAN, China – “I believe God has preserved and put me here for a purpose,” said Elder Su Laiyou, a Bai (White) Yi Bible translator, who has been involved in the translation work since 2004.
Elder Su, 55, who is born in Yunnan, went on to share incidents where he had narrowly escaped death and survived a detention.
One time, he was out in the fields doing farm work with another friend. There was an area cordoned off with wires to protect an orchard but unknown to them, those were live wires. His friend accidentally stepped on them and was electrocuted. He lost his life on the spot. “I was shocked and saddened. Later as I reflected on the accident, I thought to myself – it could have been me,” said Su. “But God had preserved me.”
Another time, he was commuting from home to the county town. But the bus driver did not allow him to get on the bus without any rhyme or reason. It left him feeling angry and frustrated till he learned the next day that the bus had got into an accident, resulting in six deaths and many being injured!
“These two incidents happened before I was a Christian. “Looking back, I believe God had kept my life for a purpose.”
Su received Christ in 1983 at the age of 23 when some relatives from another village visited and shared the gospel with his family. “My wife attended a Christian house meeting and encouraged me to go as well.” He was sceptical at first but decided to hear what the Christians have to say.
Slowly, Su found that the lyrics of the songs they sang moved him. “I was converted and not just me but also many from the village slowly began to believe.”
As Su could remember the melodies of the songs well, he was soon asked to lead in worship; something he gladly did.
“That was how the Lord led me to Him,” recalled Su whose hobby today is to play the accordion.
Detained for the Gospel
However, back then it wasn’t easy being a believer. Recalling those times Su shared, “During the early days of our gathering, we took turns to meet for worship at each other’s homes. But the police would come to our door step, harass us and try to stop us from gathering.”
Undeterred, Su and the group of believers in his village persisted in gathering. The situation turned around when a village church was built in 1987 and believers could gather freely to worship God.
Filled with a sense of mission, Su and a few of his church friends went on a day’s journey on foot to another village to bring the gospel to some relatives there. However due to some regulations, they were detained by the police and could not do what they had planned!
“Thank God we were released a week later after being given a warning! It turned out to be a good experience.”
It has been two decades now since those days but the faith and fervour in Su has not abated as he plods on with his team to complete the Bai Yi OT translation.
By the time the OT is completed, Su would have been involved in the work for 20 years. What keeps him going?
“It is from the Bible that we know God, so it’s important to complete the translation. And I believe God has also preserved me all these years to do this work. On top of that, overseas Christians have been so supportive of the Bible translation work. How can we not do it?”
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Angela Teo
2019 © United Bible Societies China Partnership