YUNNAN, China — 20 years ago, Dao Jianfen, a Christian from the Jingpo ethnic group, left her hometown to seek employment in the city. That day, the only precious things she owned were an old Jingpo Bible and a hymnal. Her family had just embraced the Christian faith and her father gave her the only Bible owned by the family so that she would have the Word of God with her.
Dao recalled, “My father said, ‘Though we may not have the Bible, the Word of God is in our hearts as we pray for you. But as for you, you must take the Word along with you.’ During those times, Bibles and hymnals were extremely scarce. The whole village of about 20 households had to share one Bible and two hymnals.”
Today, Dao, 46, is the overseer of the Jingpo congregation at Xi An Church in Yingjiang County, Yunnan. She also participated in the recent Jingpo Bible distribution held at her church. “The Bible is so important to our lives. I witness with my own eyes the difference the Bible makes in the lives of people who read the Word and those who don’t.”
Christian legacy started by Dao’s Father
One example was in the life of Dao’s father. When he first received the Jingpo Bible, he was so convicted by what he read that he apologised to his 11 children for the way that he had brought them up. “My father read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and said that he had failed as a father. We were all so shocked. He said he did not know what it meant to love. Now he knows that he must bring us up according to what the Bible says.”
Henceforth, her father would lead in the family Bible study and that in turn had left a deep imprint in Dao’s life. “The Bible has brought light into my father’s life and my family. I will always remember the Christian education, the Bible lessons I received at home from my parents. It has a lasting influence in my life,” recalled Dao, who also sings in her church choir.
The legacy continues
Today, Dao would make sure that she too has family Bible study with her two children. “As the children grow up, my wish for them is that they hold fast to Christian values and truths,” shared Dao whose son is 21 and daughter, 23. As Yingjiang County is located at the China-Myanmar northeastern border, drug abuse and other social problems are not uncommon among the people. Therefore, all the more, Dao sees the importance of bringing up her children in the Lord’s way.
Nowadays, Dao has requests from her siblings to help “parent” their children in the Lord’s way. “My siblings are too busy with their work, they don’t have time to read and study the Bible with their children and so they ask me to do it.”
Dao sees this as a good opportunity to teach her nieces and nephews Christian values as well as the Jingpo language. “I truly believe in using the Bible to educate and pass on Christian truths as well as to teach our ethnic language to the young ones. It is important to anchor our lives on the Word of God. Without the Bible, our tribe and our family would be nothing.”
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Pamela Choo
2014 © United Bible Societies China Partnership