Bible Day in China 2023 – Living Out the Scriptures

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SHANGHAI, China - Christians in China celebrated Bible Day on 9 December 2023 with the theme “Living Out the Scriptures.” Held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Shanghai, the annual event was organised by the China Christian Council and the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (CCC/TSPM).

Rev Xu Xiaohong giving his opening speech. (Photo: CCC/TSPM)
Opening Ceremony

In his opening speech, Rev Xu Xiaohong, Chairman of National TSPM, highlighted the love that Chinese Christians have for the Bible, describing it as “heavenly sustenance that nurtures our lives.” “From copying the Bible, reading the Bible, to singing the Bible, drawing the Bible and living out the Bible, every step is taken towards applying the Word of God,” said Rev Xu, alluding to the themes of past years’ Bible Day.

Quoting from the Scriptures, Rev Xu added that the Word of God is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Ps 119:105); the Bible is the inspired Word of God and “is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). He exhorted all Chinese Christians to engage the Scriptures, apply its timeless principles, and live lives worthy of the gospel.

Rev Wu Wei (left) and Rev Xu Xiaohong (right) unveiling the Ganyi-Chinese Diglot Bible

The opening ceremony also marked the unveiling of the Ganyi-Chinese Diglot Bible, a momentous milestone for the Ganyi ethnic minority Christian community and a labour of love spanning 15 years. Carried out by a dedicated team of Ganyi Bible translators of the Yunnan Christian Council/TSPM with the support of United Bible Societies, the bilingual Bible is a valuable resource for Ganyi believers seeking a deeper understanding of God's Word. It also serves as a means to preserve and perpetuate the language and culture of the Ganyi people.

Rev Wu Wei, President of CCC, then led a heartfelt prayer for the Bible ministry in China, expressing gratitude for God's grace on the Chinese Churches, and seeking the Lord's help in understanding biblical truths in the context of China and living according to its precepts in our daily lives.

A Special Bible Exhibition and Reading Salon

This year’s event featured a special Bible exhibition held at the square of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Shanghai. Upon entering the church, visitors were greeted by a wide array of Bibles, including ancient and rare copies of Chinese Bibles, various special editions and Bible reference books published by the CCC/TSPM in recent years.

Rev Zhang (L) introducing his collection of old Bibles to visitors at the event

Rev  Zhang Peifu, Vice President of the Wuxi Christian Council and Senior Pastor of the Rongxiang Christian Church, exhibited many valuable Chinese Bibles from his personal collection. Twenty years ago, Rev Zhang had inherited an old Bible from an elderly believer. This ignited his passion for collecting old Bibles and set him on a nationwide quest for old and rare editions of the Bible to collect and preserve them.

Among the more than 50 Bibles and New Testaments exhibited from his collection, the oldest is a Bible from the Ming Dynasty published in 1642,《天主降生言行纪略》, A Brief Record of the Words and Deeds of the Incarnated Lord. Another special collection is a Chinese Bible published by the China Bible House in 1955. Additionally, he showcased a rare set of Easy Wenli Bibles (Easy Wenli is a lower form of Classical Chinese language) published in the early 1900s during the Qing and Ming dynasties, giving visitors a rare glimpse into the history of Chinese Bibles.

Visitors trying their hands on stone rubbing Bible verses

On the other side of the Bible exhibition, visitors tried their hands on stone rubbing. Experiencing firsthand the challenges of stone rubbing Bible verses, they gained an appreciation for the painstaking process involved in the early production of the Bible.

Besides the Bible exhibition, there was a special lecture by Dr Simon Wong, United Bible Societies Global Translation Advisor. Invited by CCC/TSPM, Dr Wong delivered a lecture on “The Past and Present of the Chinese Bible.” He shared insights into the rich history of Chinese Bible translation, the landscape of existing Chinese Bible translations and other aspects of the Chinese Bible.

Dr Wong autographing for one of his readers. His work《中文圣经一览》, An Overview of the Chinese Bible, was a recommended book at the event.

With his many years of experience working with various Bible translation teams of the Churches in China, he also shed light on the process and challenges involved in Bible translation and the hard work put in by Bible translators. This helped the audience to have a deeper appreciation for how their Bibles came about.

In celebration of the Bible Day, the CCC/TSPM bookstore gave a 20% discount on all editions of the Bible it carries. The response was remarkable, with many seizing the opportunity to purchase multiple copies of the Bible either for themselves or their loved ones.

Visitors queuing to buy Bibles at the CCC/TSPM bookstore

The theme for this year’s Bible Day, “Living Out the Scriptures”, encourages Chinese Christians to mirror the likeness of Jesus in their homes, churches, workplaces and communities. In line with this year’s theme, the CCC/TSPM had also asked for submissions of testimonies from Chinese Christians. Praise God that the response was overwhelming. Among the many submissions, some stories have been selected, made into short videos and shared with the public.

In over three decades, UBS has been privileged to partner with the Churches in China in a wide range of Bible ministries and stand alongside them on this faith journey of living out the Scriptures. Let’s continue to pray that God’s Word will spread throughout China and Chinese Christians will live by God’s Word and be a blessing wherever they are!

Story: Priscilla Fan & May Ang
Editor: Cynthia Oh
Photos: UBSCP
2023@UBS China Partnership