Light to Their Souls

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LIAONING, China – According to a report by the China Association of the Blind in 2014, the country has more than 17 million persons with visual disability, the highest in the world.

Many are poor with few opportunities for employment. Living in physical darkness, some battle untold loneliness and low self-esteem.

Amongst them are some Christians who rely on Braille Bibles to feed on the Word of God to bring light to their souls.

When churches reopened in the 1980s, Braille Bibles were unavailable in Mainland China, except for some copies which were brought in from overseas.

Amity Press staff at the printing machine

Making Braille Bibles available is not an easy task and it is costly (scroll down for the process of producing one). A set of Braille Bible consists of 32 volumes and costs about US$270 to produce, as opposed to US$3 for a standard-sized Bible.

Seeing the critical need, United Bible Societies helped set up a Braille Bible printing unit at Amity Printing Company in 1995 and distribute Braille Bibles free of charge to churches in China that run ministries to the blind.

The Chinese Braille is based on ‘hanyu pinyin’ – phonetic representation of sounds of the language, using romanised alphabet.

Since then, many visually impaired Chinese Christians have been given the Braille Bible but much more can be done as we see God continuing to draw the blind to Himself.

Most of us take our sight for granted. We are able to see printed words across a page and read the Bible easily with our eyes. As you read these three stories from Shenyang, northern China, we hope you would be inspired to pray for our visually impaired brothers and sisters and this important work of making more Braille Bibles available for them in China.

“I Teared When I Read God’s Word.”

Zhang Mingli teared when he felt the Braille Bible for the first time.

Zhang Mingli was born blind. He came to the Lord in his teens through listening to a gospel radio broadcast during the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s.

But because Bibles were scarce and even more so for Braille Bibles, Zhang had never owned a copy of it until much later.

It was in the year 2007, after becoming a Christian for nearly 40 years, that he laid hands on his first Braille Bible.

“When I first received the Braille Bible, I read John 1:1. I kept tearing as I felt God’s Word. I was simply overcome with joy and excitement,” recalled Zhang, “Braille Bibles were very rare during those years.”

Today, at 67 years old, Zhang is serving actively in a church for the visually impaired in Shenyang city, Liaoning province. “Praise God that over the years, the church has seen 200 more blind people coming to Christ!”

“Whether I Can See or Not, I Will Continue to Believe in this God.”

Honglin always prays for God to guide her journeys.

When Honglin, 40, cannot find her way home during rainy days, she would pray earnestly. God never fail to help her find her way.

Even though she has to take three buses to reach church, she looks forward to it every week and she will always pray for God’s angels to lead her along the way.

“Life as a blind person is hard,” she shared. “From leaving the house, buying daily necessities and visiting the doctors, to taking a bath. But I’ll always go to God in prayers and through prayers I’ve experienced the Lord’s grace in my life.”

Honglin lost her sight gradually and by age 20, she was totally blind. When she first accepted the Lord as her personal Saviour, she had hoped that God will miraculously restore her sight.

But that did not happen. As she grew to understand God’s Word more, her faith was strengthened. “I was convicted of this truth. Whether I can see or not, I will continue to believe in this God.”

Over the years, Honglin has learnt to put her hopes on God. “Light is when we focus our sight on God. Darkness is when we do not do so.”

“God Says Treat Them like Sighted Christians!”

When Jia Ying, a lay preacher, was asked by his pastor to shepherd believers with visual disability, he struggled to say yes.

He had no experience and no confidence to shepherd this unique group; in fact he had no idea at all how to do it.

Preacher Jia Ying serves among the visually impaired.

So he prayed and sought the Lord. He asked God how he should shepherd them. The Lord impressed upon his heart to shepherd this unique group as he would the sighted Christians!

His heart immediately received the assurance and he accepted the responsibility entrusted upon him with peace.

Praise God that this year marked the fifth year of his service amongst persons with visual disability at Guang Ming Tang (Bright Church)!

The past five years have been a special and meaningful journey for Jia Ying. He learned more about the daily struggles faced by the blind, especially with loneliness.

He shared that for many believers with visual disability, loneliness is a big part of their existence. “What they look forward to in the week is Sunday when they can go to church, worship and fellowship with other believers. That becomes the highlight of their week.”

Some of the blind believers like to address themselves as ‘the blind children’ to God, but Jia would tell them to address themselves as ‘God’s children’. He would remind them that they are no different from sighted people in the eyes of God.

At the same time, Jia is encouraged by their deep hunger for God and desire to gather and meet with other believers. He shares, “Despite the inconvenience of travel and having to make several bus transfers, blind believers are not deterred.”

“The message of God’s salvation is very precious to the blind. If believers grow in their understanding of the truth of salvation, they will increasingly discover the liberty and joy it brings.”

“Anyone who can see the kingdom God is a child of God. For those who do not recognise God’s kingdom, they are blind even if they see,” said Jia.

 

Story: UBS CP
Photos: UBSCP
2018 © United Bible Societies China Partnership

The Process of Producing a Braille Bible