Chinese Study Bible: A Precious Resource

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GUANGXI, China - How do you explain in simple terms the idea of Lazarus in Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:23) to elderly believers?

Lay preacher Liang Mianxing, 45, found herself at a loss for words one Sunday morning when she preached on the parable recorded in Luke 16:19-31. “I thought I understood the idea, but I just didn’t know how to explain it. My mum (who was in the congregation) was looking at me, feeling anxious that I could not convey it clearly!”

Liang Mianxing was overjoyed to receive the CSB, her first study Bible.

Liang recalled feeling frustrated and desiring to be more equipped. However, like many lay preachers in China, she does not have easy access to biblical resources to help her in her ministry. According to Liang, lack of education is common where she is located, and good reference materials are scarce. It has thus been a challenge for Christians in rural China to have a more in-depth understanding of the Bible.

Hence, when Liang first received the Chinese Study Bible (CSB) from the Guangxi Christian Council with support from the United Bible Societies (UBS), she thought to herself: “This looks rather expensive and must contain valuable insights that would greatly assist me in my ministry!” As she recalled what went through her mind then, Liang burst out laughing.

As a lay preacher who has served more than 20 years in her local church, Liang shared with us how she came to faith and was called to ministry.

Faith Journey as a Young Girl

During her junior high school days, Liang would walk to school every morning. Pacing through the fields surrounded by lush greenery and flowers in bloom, she often thought to herself how wonderful it would be if she could live forever. “I wished I didn’t have to grow old and die.” But, as a teenager, she knew that was impossible.

Not long after, someone shared the gospel with her mother. “They told us we will have eternal life through Jesus, and we can go to heaven.” Liang was captivated by the Good News, and she and her mum became believers.

Like many Chinese at the end of the 1990s, Liang left her village to work in the nearby bustling province of Guangdong. After some time, she returned to her village and began attending her hometown church, where she found many elderly members, most of whom were illiterate and could not understand the Bible.

Being one of the few believers who could read the Bible, Liang was soon asked by her local church leader to preach. But she felt ill-equipped.

Looking at the dire situation, she sensed the need for some Bible training so that she could explain the Bible clearly to believers. “I had a vision in my heart that I would minister God’s Word in my hometown.”

“I didn’t know how to preach and felt embarrassed. When we shared from the Bible, we were also not sure if we had misinterpreted it,” she smiled as she looked back on those days. “Sometimes, we would even simply have someone read articles from the Christian magazine 'Tian Feng',” Liang shared. 

Looking at the dire situation, she sensed the need for some Bible training so that she could explain the Bible clearly to believers. “I had a vision in my heart that I would minister God’s Word in my hometown.”

Liang thus sought out opportunities to learn. These included a one-year Bible training program organised by the Guangxi Christian Council, after which she began to serve and preach more regularly.

However, like many other lay preachers without formal theological training, she continued to face challenges, struggling to explain some Bible passages and to preach with confidence.

The Gift of a Study Bible
The inside pages of the CSB.

Liang was therefore overjoyed when she received the CSB, which contains study notes translated and adapted from Crossway’s ESV Study Bible. She has never owned any study Bible prior to this.

Looking at the comprehensive background explanations and detailed profiling of biblical figures, Liang’s appreciation for the CSB grew as she delved into this precious resource.

“The historical background provided in the CSB, especially that of the Old Testament, has been instrumental in enabling me to draw more accurate applications for today.”

Biblical resources like the CSB are invaluable to someone trying to explain the message of the Bible. No longer does Liang have to spend countless hours researching and comparing sources. The CSB helps her save time and increase her understanding of the Bible.

Liang Mianxing (right) is busy ministering God’s Word multiple times a week.

Now Liang teaches the Scripture, averaging three to four times a week. She consults the CSB regularly to minister God’s Word more effectively. “The historical background provided in the CSB, especially that of the Old Testament, has been instrumental in enabling me to draw more accurate applications for today.”

“Thanks to the generosity of UBS and Crossway in providing the CSB, my understanding of the Bible's historical context has deepened. This has helped to make my sermons clearer and enabled our fellow believers to have a better grasp of the Word of God. It has been a great blessing to the church community!”

 

Story: Marcus Xiao
Photos: UBSCP & Provided by Liang Mianxing
2024 © UBS China Partnership