SHANDONG, China – What would make you very happy? Even beaming with great joy? For the rural Catholics in Shandong province, it was receiving Bibles donated by overseas believers.
UBS China Partnership staff, Ellyn Chan, had the privilege to visit some rural Catholic churches in Pingyin county, Shandong province, where she distributed Bibles and fellowshipped with the local believers.
In Pingyin, there are 15 churches and 5,000 Catholics. According to Father Wang Jian, who has been shepherding in Pingyin for the past two years, there had been Catholics in this area since the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century. In the early 17th century, the Jesuit missionaries moved to Shandong to share the faith; they later handed over to the Franciscan missionaries who continued with the good work.
As with the Chinese Protestants, most of the Chinese Catholics live in the rural areas. “Our parishioners are mostly subsistence farmers growing mainly maize, wheat and peaches.”
“In the past, Bibles were really scarce. I saw the Bible for the first time in my late teens!” shared Father Wang.
With partnership between the Catholic Church in China and United Bible Societies, the Studium Biblicum Bible, the Chinese Catholic Bible, was made available in mainland China in 1994.
Praise God that since then, with donations from overseas believers, more and more Chinese Catholics have been able to have ready access to God’s Word. We bring to you here some responses of those who received a copy of the Bible during Ellyn’s trip.
Ai Mingling (left) didn’t use to read the Bible. But after she attended the church Bible reading class, she felt the Lord speaking to her from Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Praise God that she is increasingly letting the Word of God guide her daily life.
Tang (right) feels that when he pulls himself out of his busyness and intentionally carves out time to read the Word of God, the Lord never fails to encourage and strengthen him. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Ellyn also met a Catholic faithful, Liu Fengqin (left), who received a free Bible from UBS several years ago. Liu felt so blessed that she has been buying Bibles for the poor, the elderly and the handicapped, visiting them and taking care of them. She brought Ellyn to visit these impoverished believers, some of whom have yet to own a copy of their own Bible, so they can receive one from UBS.
Here, Liu is with Zhang Yaodong, 55 (right). Zhang hurt his spine at a work accident and has been wheelchair-bound for five years. He owned a traditional script Chinese Bible previously. Today, he’s happy to receive a simplified script Bible, which makes it easier for him to read the Word. He now joins a Bible-reading group via WeChat, a Chinese social media app. Liu also visits him regularly.
Wei Zhuan, 64 (right), has never owned a Bible before. He lives alone. This former security guard is not able to work now due to poor health. Thank God for Liu Fengqin (left) who visits him regularly. Pray for Wei to experience the presence of God with him as he reads His Word.
Zhang Pengpeng, 39 (left), with his mother, thanked donors for his first Bible, which he has been reading everyday enthusiastically since receiving it. Though paralysed from the waist down since he was 18, Zhang is full of joy knowing that God saves the poor.
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap… “ Psalm 113:7
Ellyn with Gao Xia (right), a 51-year-old believer. Gao suffered a stroke two years ago which left her partially paralysed. She thanked God that sickness has brought her closer to God. She and her extended family used to share one Bible. Now she is happy to have one just for her family!
Story: Cynthia Oh (based on notes collected by Ellyn Chan)
Photos: UBS CP
2019 © United Bible Societies China Partnership