Author: James Howard-Smith, 14 September 2023
Bible Society supporters in England and Wales have helped make the Bible available in marginalised languages all over the world, from Jola in West Africa to Achí in Central America. It’s thanks to supporters like you that the Bible was recently published in Ganyi, a Southern Chinese language, after decades of work. For one of the project’s dedicated volunteers, Li Shaoxiang, this was a 16-year commitment, and it wasn’t easy.
‘The initial phase was especially difficult,’ Li said. ‘I had to work doubly hard to understand the Chinese Bible by reading it several times, consulting reference books and discussing it with my fellow Bible translators. Then I had to consider how to translate it accurately into the Ganyi language.’
Li was even tempted to give up. The Ganyi-speaking communities he was serving were impoverished and could never afford to pay him. He said: ‘I recall the first year of involvement when my son was to enrol into school and we were financially very stretched. I felt really bad that my parents and wife had to carry the burden of providing for the family by working so hard in the fields.’
Why did he do it? Because Ganyi-speakers, like all of us, need to hear God speak their language. ‘I knew they were all longing to see the word of God in their own language.’
As a marginalised language, Ganyi is spoken at home but not used officially or taught in schools, so most Ganyi have never learned to read it. Li Shaoxiang, however, had been fortunate. ‘When I was young,’ he said, ‘we had an elderly believer in our church who was very proficient in the language. He had a rich knowledge of it, which impressed me. He taught some of us the Ganyi script.’
This skill made Li crucial to the project, but it didn’t make the work easy. ‘Support from my family, the translation team, my church and Bible Society helped me to persevere. My wife and parents told me, “Don’t give up. We are people of faith – we face difficulties together as a family. We will back you up.” Their unwavering support for me is very precious. My fellow Bible translators were always cheering me on, helping me to deepen my understanding of the Bible. My church also gave me a lot of moral support and prayed for us all these years – for wisdom and understanding from the Lord.’
You can give someone the incomparable experience of reading and hearing God’s word in their own language. Your donation today will support a hardworking volunteer like Li as they strive to bring the Bible to their community.
Material provided by United Bible Societies-China Partnership.