A Celebration of God’s Grace: Looking Back and Ahead

Rev Robert Wiebusch (left) giving a speech at the Celebration.(Photo:UBS/D.Soesilo)

SHANGHAI: “Ours is a partnership that, under God, has brought blessing and life and hope — dare I say — to millions of people all round the world.” This was a remark made by Rev Robert Wiebusch, Chairman of UBS Asia Pacific Area Board, referring to the Bible ministry partnership between the China Christian Council and the National Committee of Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (CCC/TSPM) and the United Bible Societies (UBS).

Rev Wiebusch leading a delegation comprising UBS Board Members, General Secretaries, Directors, Senior Staff and supporters coming from 20 different countries, representing 16 Bible Societies, joined top leaders from CCC/TSPM, SARA and other Chinese church leaders in this milestone celebration on 10 April 2010 commemorating 25 successful years of partnership under the Grace of God.

25 years ago, when CCC approached UBS for help in sponsoring paper for Bible production in Nanjing, UBS responded by shipping 100 MT of Bible paper for the printing of the first 60,000 Bibles in China. As China’s demand for Bibles surged rapidly making the need to print Bibles within Mainland China more expedient, UBS pitched in to raise fund worldwide and provided expertise to help establish Nanjing’s Amity Printing Company in 1987.  “(This was) the beginning of what is now 25 years of mutual and respectful partnership between the CCC/TSPM and the UBS and has resulted in over 50 million Bibles being produced and distributed throughout China until this time,” said Mr David Thorne, Area Secretary of UBS AP Service Organization.

Prior to the Celebration, to representatives of funding Bible Societies, Chairman of TSPM, Elder Fu Xianwei had said that Chinese Christians were now able to have their Bibles because of the help of UBS.  “With the Bible paper subsidy from UBS, Chinese Christians, rich and poor, can afford to buy a copy of the Bible. The 25 years of partnership between CCC/TSPM and UBS have laid a solid foundation for the growth and development of the Church and the spread of the gospel in China.”

Group photo of some of the delegates standing in front of Holy Trinity Church. (Photo:UBS/D.Soesilo)
Group photo of some of the delegates standing in front of Holy Trinity Church. (Photo:UBS/D.Soesilo)

At the Celebration, in his speech highlighting the cooperation ministry between CCC/TSPM and UBS, Elder Fu reiterated that “the basis of 25 years of good partnership is openness and mutual respect, serving as a good model for other international agencies.”

Besides providing subsidy for Bible paper, the UBS fellowship has also helped to purchase 44 Bible distribution vans for use by the Bible distribution centers of CCC/TSPM. Elder Fu highlighted that “CCC/TSPM has also published 8 different minority languages with the help of UBS in translation, including the Miao language Bible and Lisu language NT published just last year. To date, we have published 50 million Bibles with 50 different versions and specifications – not to mention Braille Bibles and digital Bibles — thus serving the needs of Chinese Christians from various ages, occupations and social status. ”

Both CCC/TPSM and UBS leaders recognized the indispensable support of the Chinese Government, especially the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), in the Bible ministry of the Church in China and in the partnership between CCC/TSPM and UBS.  Representing SARA and the Minister of Religious Affairs, Mr Wang Zuoan, was Ms Guo Wei, the Director General of SARA Department of Foreign Affairs.

“In these 25 years, I’m very pleased to be a witness of the development of the Bible ministry in China, of the enhancement of Christianity in China, and of the improvement of friendly relationship between churches in China and overseas organizations,” observed Ms Guo. “The cooperation between CCC/TSPM and UBS made the amount of Bible published in China increase from several thousand copies at the beginning to hundreds of thousands, and then to several millions of copies every year today.”

“On behalf of Minister Wang Zuoan, I wish to convey our congratulations and greetings to all of you. UBS is not only a sincere friend to CCC/TSPM but also to SARA. We appreciate it that UBS chose to cooperate with the churches in China in an open and legal way, and our gratitude also goes to UBS for your support to overseas Bible exhibition organized by CCC/TSPM. Hence I am grateful for your support and longtime friendship,” Ms Guo concluded with a smile.

Asserting that this Celebration was not just a celebration for the last 25 years of partnership but for the next 25 years as well, Elder Fu looked forward to continued and greater cooperation between CCC/TSPM and UBS in Bible ministry. One area of CCC/TSPM and UBS collaboration in the near future would be in the production of more editions and formats of Bible to meet the Scripture needs of children and young people. He also expressed the desire for greater partnership in holistic ministry, like the purchase and deployment of Bible distribution cum medical vans.

In his congratulatory letter, American Bible Society’s President and CEO, Dr. R. Lamar Vest wrote this: “We hope that the partnership between the CCC/TSPM and UBS will continue to bear fruit until every man, woman, and child in need becomes a beneficiary of the hope God’s Word brings.”

Rev Wiebusch (from left) presenting a replica of the 1823 Bible to Elder Fu. (Photo:UBS/D.Soesilo)

At the end of the Celebration, Rev Weibusch presented Elder Fu a replica set of the first complete Chinese Bible translated by Rev Robert Morrison, Rev William Milne and their Chinese Assistants from 1807 to 1819, and published in 1823, with the support of the British & Foreign Bible Societies (see left photo).  It was a reminder of the Bible Societies’ involvement, contribution and commitment towards the Bible ministry of China over the past 200 years.

Reflecting on the Celebration, UBS China Partnership Coordinator Mr Kua Wee Seng, said, “We praise God for the incredible achievement over the past 25 years, accomplished only by the Grace of God and by His Provision. As we are reminded by Paul in Romans 11: 36, ‘For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen.’ “

Written by Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership