Transformation through Translation: The Wa Bible Impact

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“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.” Bao Bao’ai, Yunnan, China

YUNNAN, China - In a remote village nestled amidst the mountains, Bao Bao'ai and his family of the Wa* ethnic minority group in China have experienced a remarkable journey of faith.

Born into a Christian family, Bao's spiritual path faced a turbulent interruption during the Cultural Revolution, leaving him disconnected from his faith. However, the resumption of religious activities in the 1980s, due to Deng Xiaoping's open door and reform policy, rekindled his faith and set him on a profound quest for biblical truth.

Though his faith was rekindled, Bao encountered numerous challenges along the way. When his wife fell ill, he resorted to idol worship and superstitious rituals in search of healing. "I offered prayers to the idols, sacrificing chickens, pig's and bull's heads!" Bao admitted. Yet, the emptiness of these practices soon became apparent, prompting him to seek genuine meaning and transformation in his life.

In addition, the scarcity of Wa Bibles in Bao’s village meant that it was hard for them to know God and His truths. So, when the long-awaited Wa language Bible finally arrived after more than 30 over years since the reopening of the churches, it became a catalyst for transformation not just for Bao but also his village.

An example was Bao's son who was once trapped in drug addiction. "The grip of addiction had plunged our family into despair, leaving us feeling neither alive nor dead.” The family not only struggled financially but also bore the weight of shame among their fellow villagers. “Even simple pleasures like enjoying a hearty meal became distant dreams and seeing other families doing so filled us with envy and longing." Bao shared emotionally.

“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. 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.” Bao Bao’ai, Yunnan, China

Now, with the introduction of the Wa Bible, Wa Christians began forming Bible reading groups. Bao attended first and soon brought his son to one of these groups, where his son also experienced a profound transformation through the power of God's Word. Through the group, the Lord helped Bao’s son overcome his addiction and he repented of his sins. Then the fractured relationships within their household began to heal. Bao’s daughter-in-law who was estranged from his son began to reconcile with him. She eventually also accepted Christ! Bao’s family now gathers to study Scripture together, finding strength, guidance, and renewed joy.

“We immersed ourselves in its pages, reading it day after day as a family, to the point where the Bible has become worn and weathered. As we delved deeper into its teachings, our hearts were filled with a profound sweetness. Reading the Scripture 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 shared.

“The Bible has transformed my entire family and turned our lives around. It is more valuable to me than silver or gold.”

Bao's testimony showcases the remarkable impact of the Bible. He said, “The Bible has transformed my entire family and turned our lives around. It is more valuable to me than silver or gold.” The transformation in Bao's family becomes a beacon of hope for their community, drawing others to seek the life-changing power of God's Word. Bao not only influenced his family, he has also taught a few people how to read the Wa Bible. He will have people over at his home and read the Bible together with them.

With the arrival of the Wa Bible, not only was Bao’s family transformed, his humble village is also witnessing a revival. Bao observed that the local church is emphasising more on preaching, reading and studying the Bible, as well as encouraging the congregation to share their faith with others. It is bringing about a spiritual renewal to the Wa Christian community with gatherings for Bible study flourishing, drawing people closer to God.

The United Bible Societies is privileged to partner with the China Christian Council/TSPM and Yunnan Christian Council/TSPM to translate the Bible into the Wa language. As we witness the profound impact of God's Word on the lives of the Wa minority, we fervently pray for His continued strength and presence in their lives so that Wa Christians can be a blessing to the people in their community and even beyond.

* The Wa minority group is an ethnic community residing in the mountainous regions of China, particularly in the border areas near Myanmar. They have a unique cultural heritage and language, which adds to their distinct identity. The Wa people have encountered numerous challenges throughout their history, including the impact of significant societal changes, such as the Cultural Revolution.

 

Story: Priscilla Fan & May Ang
Photos: UBS CP
2023@UBS China Partnership