(An Interview with Rev Bao Guangqiang, a Wa Bible translator)
YUNNAN, China – “I want to thank the United Bible Societies (UBS) for supporting the Church in distributing free Bibles (in Wa ethnic language) to us some time ago; now almost every Wa family in my village has at least one Wa Bible. Moreover, most of the villagers can now read the Wa Bible because of the Wa language scripture literacy classes run by the Church with the support of UBS!”
The above comment was from a beaming Rev Bao Guangqiang who shared about a ministry he has spent a large part of his life doing – making the Bible available to the Wa people group through Bible Translation.
A Lukewarm Faith Tested
Before he became a Bible translator, Bao used to work in a factory. An industrial accident at work made him severely ill and unable to work. After much promptings by his Christian parents to go to church, and through the prayers of his family and church friends, Bao accepted Christ into his life. Subsequently, God mercifully healed him and led him to study at Yunnan Theological Seminary.
However, at that time, his heart was not convinced or completely surrendered, even after graduating from the seminary and serving in the church.
A dramatic event in 1998 turned his heart completely to God. His young daughter who could only speak the Wa language was lost in Kunming city when the family travelled there from their hometown. When Bao cried out to God in desperation, God heard his prayers. Soon after, he received a call to inform him that his daughter was found. Recalling that moment as if it had just happened yesterday, Bao said, “That was when I completely surrendered myself to God.”
A Faith Strengthened
In 2002, Bao joined the Wa Bible translation team.
“For close to 20 years, I have devoted my time and effort into making the Word of God available to Christian believers in my people group: I help translate the Bible into Wa and teach Wa Christians in scripture literacy classes. It’s not easy, but I am grateful and honoured to be part of this work.”
Bao shares a strong conviction that it is necessary to have the whole Bible available for all Christians, particularly his Wa people group, so that all can read and understand God’s Word. “Previously, only the New Testament has been translated into Wa language by American missionaries. For a long time, Wa Christians heard about Genesis, Exodus, Adam, Eve and Moses, and a few other fragmentary old testament stories. They were unable to piece together the Word of God as a complete, consistent and coherent biblical narrative.
Nevertheless, most of them only listened to what was told to them and without in-depth understanding and discernment.”
“God has blessed me tremendously along the way, I understand more about God and His Word. Because of my experience in translating the Wa Bible over the years, I have been recognised outside the church community, to be an expert in the Wa language and culture. From time to time, I’ve been interviewed by people involved in policy-making and the academia. But what really touched me was the excitement from fellow believers when they read the opening line of the Bible in Wa: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.’”
The complete Wa Bible was finally translated and published by the Churches in China in 2016, with the support of UBS. UBS continues to support the Wa scripture literacy programme which Rev Bao is still involved in.
Story: Marcus Xiao and Pamela Choo
2021 © United Bible Societies China Partnership