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‘I offered prayers to idols’

Author: Simon Bartz, 15 March 2024

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Bao Bao’ai was born into a Christian family in China, but the Cultural Revolution, when Bibles were destroyed, left him disconnected from his faith. And when his wife fell ill, he resorted to superstitious healing rituals. 

‘I offered prayers to idols, sacrificing chickens and the heads of pigs and bulls,’ Bao’ai said. The rituals didn’t work.  

At that time there were few Scriptures available in Bao’ai’s village in the mountains of Southwestern China. Those that were there used an old script that few could understand. 

But in 2016 a new translation of the full Bible arrived in the Wa language. This Bible, made possible by the kind giving of Bible Society supporters, transformed the entire community. 

‘When I didn't have a Bible, I lacked a clear understanding of God's will and guidance. Relying solely on my own thoughts and ideas, I made decisions that were not pleasing to God,’ said Bao’ai. ‘After reading the Bible, I felt a surge of strength and empowerment. It was as if I had awakened from the darkness and gained clarity.’ 

Villages transformed

Now, small Bible Study groups are widespread in the villages in the area. Bao’ai took his son who was a drug addict to one of these groups. His son repented of his sins, and his wife, who had left the family home, returned. Witnessing the remarkable transformation in her husband’s life, she came to faith too. Now Bao’ai’s whole family study the Scriptures together. 

‘We immerse ourselves in its pages, reading it day after day as a family, to the point where the Bible has become worn and weathered,’ Bao’ai said, holding up his well-thumbed Bible. 

‘As we delved deeper into its teachings, our hearts were filled with a profound sweetness. Reading the Scriptures has been immensely beneficial to me personally. Previously, I did not really know God and his will. Now I know him better. I have taken it upon myself to lead my son and daughter-in-law in this journey of studying and understanding God’s word.’  

Bao’ai’s testimony is similar to many in his village, which is now in the midst of a spiritual revival, showcasing the remarkable impact that a Bible can have in a community when they can read it in their own language and gain a deeper level of understanding. 

How is the Bible translated for communities like Bao’ai’s?

Translating a Bible is no easy task, especially in a remote area of China. First, a church partner in China requests our help. A Bible Society team will visit the region to investigate the situation. 

Where there is a need for Bible translation, we first get permission from the local authorities to work in the area and then, thanks to the kind giving of Bible Society supporters and the church partner’s local translation team, we can provide support. The local team will need to be supported over many years as they translate the entire Bible. This will include conducting Bible translation workshops and training, providing translation consultation, and supporting the translators' living allowances.

As you can imagine, regular giving from Bible Society supporters is crucial to the success of such long-term projects. 

After a translation is successfully completed and the Bible distributed, we pay follow-up visits, during which we gauge the next step in how to meet the scriptural needs of the community. Often this is pastor training, coupled with the translation of a Study Bible. Our goal at Bible Society is not only to translate the Bible into as many languages as possible, but to see whole communities engage with the Scriptures. 

How you can help

Bao’ai said: ‘The Bible has transformed my entire family and turned our lives around. It is more valuable to me than silver or gold.’ You can reach someone just as powerfully by twinning your Bible with the translation they’re awaiting. We’ll send you a bookplate to go in your Bible and remind you of the transformation you’ve brought to someone like Bao’ai.

Discover Bible Twinning

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