(China/MNN/Biblica) — Easter weekend is a time of celebration for Christians around the world. And this year, for the church in China, history is being made.
For more than a century, the predominant Bible in China has been the Union translation. While still in use, it’s written in a language most contemporary Chinese people don’t speak. Carl Moeller of Biblica – The International Bible Society likens it to the King James Version of our English language Bibles.
“The real crying need was a contemporary translation of what was authoritative and well-researched and well-documented.”
A new translation has been in the works for years, and the Chinese government has granted approval for the Chinese Contemporary Bible to be printed in mass production at Amity Printing in Nanjing–the world’s largest publisher of Bibles. Moeller says it’s a “first-ever in the history of the church in China to have a modern translation available for the vast number of Chinese citizens.” The Chinese government will announce the distribution of the Bibles over Easter weekend. This is a first for China: a legal translation that’s both modern and contemporary. Moeller says, “It could be a revolution in the Chinese church.”
The Bible is a response to the explosive growth of evangelism in China. As numbers continue to rise, the Chinese church is set to eclipse the size of the American evangelical church and be the largest national Bible-believing community in the world. Moeller notes that it’s a stark difference from a country where missionaries were banned following World War II.
“I think for many people who grew up in a time where the Chinese Communist government ruled with an iron fist, the only thing that could be done was to pray, and that’s what churches around the world did.”
Turmoil and great persecution still exists within the country, and there is no true count of the number of both registered and unregistered churches; but estimates could place the number at well over 100 million people in the next few years. “There’s a remarkable story about how God is moving, and we’re getting to participate with the Chinese Contemporary Bible,” says Moeller.
When asked how people might support the work being done to distribute the Bibles, Moeller says it starts with prayer. “It’s really important for people to remember that they can pray for the Chinese church: pray that these Bibles are received into both homes and hearts. Not only can believers now study the Bible in a way that makes sense, they can use them to evangelize neighbors who don’t know Jesus.”
It’s an Easter like no other, and Moeller says “not just to have a Bible but to be able to read it and share it with others: that’s the mission that we’re engaged in right now.”