Update from Brian and Donna Renes – October 2020
You know the expression, “that’s Greek to me.” Even though you hear something spoken, you do not understand it or do not learn the language, so you have no clue what was said. These types of phrases (idiomatic expressions) are sometimes very different in other languages. If you speak to someone in Spanish and want to express the same sentiment, you need to say, “That’s Chinese to me.”
I have seen many Chinese lately. Every day my computer screen has been filled with various sets of Chinese Bibles in different scripts. This morning in my email inbox, a colleague wrote, saying, “In your report to churches, you must write down.., working for an audience of 1.4 billion this month!” So here goes a glimpse of translation (and Bible) work in China.
The main languages of China have had a translation of the full Bible for many years. Last year more Bibles were distributed in China than in the United States. In recent years, all reports indicate that the church is growing, especially in the rural areas of China. Like in many contexts throughout the world and history, translation and revision of the Bible is an ongoing process, especially for a thriving church. One aspect that reflects growth and maturity is the desire for study material in the language. This past month I have been working on numerous Study Bibles in Chinese. There are excellent Study Bibles in various languages, and those can be used as models for new work. I have helped new projects get a running start by mirroring the published content to their latest projects. Translators still need to do a lot of work to adapt the study material, but the time to do so is reduced.
With the United Bible Societies and many other organizations, our primary goal is to make the Bible available to everyone in the language and format they desire. For some, that means we start a translation project in a language that has never had the Bible, and for others, it means providing a Study Bible. The Bible is indeed useful for teaching… and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
On a more personal note, I keep very busy helping teams from our home in Iowa. Even though travel is not yet allowed, remote work is possible, and we are progressing. These past weeks have focused on Chinese Study Bibles, but most months, it has helped teams prepare for publishing – many of which are in Africa. Pray for those translation teams that were hoping to finish this year. Final edits and agreement on precise wording require many meetings. From east to west, north, and south, no better time than now for God’s Word to be shared.
Partners with you in mission.
Brian and Donna Renes