Stuart Bullington has been working with Chinese students in the US, Asia and the UK for more than 20 years. He suggests that students need to be prepared in three ways in order to succeed when they return to China[i]. Firstly, they need to be discipled as a Chinese believer (contextualized discipleship). Secondly, they need to receive specific training in order to understand the issues they will face on returning home and to develop coping strategies (pre-return training). Thirdly, they need to be introduced into networks of churches and other believers in China (networking). In this article we will consider the first of these – contextualized discipleship.
By David Xing, November 2016
In April 2016 Thriving Turtles conducted a survey amongst Chinese International students at four universities in Sydney: The University of NSW; The University of Sydney; The University of Science and Technology (UTS); and Macquarie University. The survey was targeted at Christian students who were recruited through on-campus Christian ministries of AFES FOCUS, Power to Change and Mandarin Bible Study groups.
In September 2016 the China Source Quarterly Journal was devoted to the issue of helping Chinese Returnees thrive as Christians after returning to China.
Living in another country can be a life-changing experience. The longer the stay and the greater the immersion into that country’s social life, the deeper and more lasting the effects. Adapting to the new culture, making foreign friends, learning a new set of behaviors, and speaking in a foreign language shape the identity and values of sojourners in ways that can never be undone.
The changes that overseas sojourners experience may go beyond the necessary adaptation to a new language and culture; for many, the experience creates an openness to new ideas, new values, and even a new way of understanding life.
When the time finally comes to return home, the newly-arriving returnees often discover that the behaviors, identity, tastes, and values they acquired overseas do not transfer easily into the home culture. Many of the changes they experienced, including some that are highly valued, must now be reversed for the sake of fitting in.
Now what if, among the many changes experienced in a foreign land, some of the sojourners have converted to the Christian faith? This is certainly the case for thousands of Chinese students and scholars who have studied abroad over the past three decades. For those yet to return, how will their faith, acquired while overseas, and often learned from Westerners in a foreign language, be brought home to become part of their daily life in China? Will these new believers, as returnees, view their new faith as one of the changes that “must now be reversed for the sake of fitting in”? Or will they discover how to be both Chinese and Christian, finding their places of service in the churches of China, perhaps via returnee fellowships made up of others who, like themselves, came to faith while studying abroad?
You can read all the articles here. We’d like to draw your attention to the following articles that are particularly helpful:
This article is a good summary of many of the issues that Chinese Returnees face.
by Henry E. T.
This articles looks at the challenges for Returnees in committing to a Church when they return to China.
This is a translation of the article The Church in China – An Introduction.
耶稣升天之后，使徒和信徒开始了早期教会活动。新约中的《使徒行者》记录了这段历史。 到了一世纪中晚期，基督教会遭到来自犹太人和罗马帝国的逼迫。直到公元312年当时的罗马皇帝康斯坦丁成为基督徒并建立罗马教会ii，逼迫才停止。基督教由原来的非法、被逼迫转而成为合法、受保护的国教。教会也不再躲藏，转而在罗马社会中占有非常重要的地位。 罗马统治了西方社会也影响了从中东到英国的社会和文化。公元1054年iii，教会在政治上和神学上产生了分歧，导致教会分裂。西罗马教会继续接受罗马的统治，被称为罗马天主教会，而东正教会在康斯坦丁堡（位于土耳其）确立了统治地位。这些教会都宣称自己直接受权于上帝。圣经只有拉丁文或希腊文的版本（当时禁止翻译成其他通俗的语言），也只能让经过特殊训练的神父阅读。
公元635年iv，一个叫 阿罗本(Alopen)的聂斯脱里派（景教，Nestorian）教徒（天主教的一个分支）来到中国并在长安见了唐朝皇帝唐太宗 （唐太宗李世民）。 他向皇帝展示了一本亚述（叙利亚），语的圣经，皇帝看不懂，就叫他留在中国，翻译圣经并讲授基督教。西安的石林里有一块刻于公元781年v的石碑，记录了基督教的福音如何在公元635年传到了中国。不幸的是，唐太宗死后，之后继任的皇帝不喜欢景教教徒，公元845年vi ，景教教徒被驱逐出中国，中国的信徒也被迫放弃信仰。
1245年到1253年vii间，教皇伊诺森四世（Pope Innocent IV）差派方济会宣教士（Franciscan missionaries）到中国，之后耶稣会士（the Jesuits）在1580年代viii到达中国。 这两组人都是罗马天主教的分支。 耶酥会宣教士大多是科学家，工作效率很高，他们为了方便直接交流而花时间学习中文。利玛窦（Matteo Ricci） 和南怀仁（ Ferdinand Verbiest）是很有名的耶稣会宣教士，甚至为当时的皇帝当参谋和教师。
两次鸦片战争和随之的不平等条约签订后，中国开始向外国人敞开大门，宣教士可以住在中国、传福音、建立教会。很多早期教会很大程度上依赖外国宣教士的支持和管理。其中一个非常有名的宣教士是戴德生(James Hudson Taylor)，他建立了中国内地会，有1000多名西方宣教士通过该机构在中国内地侍奉。 1800年代晚期到1900年代早期，中国经历了内战、自然灾害以及很多其他问题，处境非常艰难。为了将福音带到中国这些宣教士也经受了很多磨难。到1949年为止，中国的新教教徒不到一百万人。
经历多年内战之后，1949年毛泽东宣布新中国成立。不久之后，包括宣教士在内的所有外国人都被要求离开中国。留下中国教会自行发展。1951年，吴耀宗 发起了三自爱国运动（TSPM, Three Self Patriotic Movement）x， 代表政府管理教会。“三自“ 代表的是“自治”，“自养”，“自传”。 三自爱国运动的目的是让中国教会脱离外国影响，让教会与政府的政策保持一致。
1966年文革开始， 三自爱国运动被禁止，教堂被迫关闭、接受搜查、挪作他用。三自运动的领袖和牧师被捕，送到劳改营进行劳动改造。教会从公众的视线中消失，但是勇敢的基督徒继续私下聚会鼓励彼此。 这些“地下”教会遭到逼迫，基督徒不得不隐藏信仰，生活很艰难。 圣经、赞美诗和所有基督教书籍都被没收焚毁。基督徒背下部分圣经，在聚会中背诵整篇经文来彼此鼓励。 尽管不为公众所知，教会在这一时期仍然继续增长扩大。
1978年邓小平成为中国领导人，开始实行改革开放政策。1979年，在丁光训的带领下三自爱国运动重新开始。1980年中国基督教协会（Chinese Christian Council, CCC）成立，联络三自爱国运动和新教教会。这两个组织被成为“两会”xi。其功能就是代表政府来监管教会。1980年代，教会慢慢回归教堂开始礼拜。牧师从劳改营中释放，有些人开始作为三自教会牧师侍奉。中国基督教协会也开始办培训课程培训新牧师。
政府让家庭教会要不和三自教会注册，要不解散，因此家庭教会在官方上是非法的。实际上要注册很难甚至是不可能的。大多时候家庭教会只要满足三个标准就允许其继续xiv。 第一，教会规模要小，会众人数只能是30-40人；第二， 不能有任何外国人参与其中；第三，不能评论政治或批判政府。在另一层面上，当地政府的态度会影响该地区家庭教会的自由度。
 Daniel H. Bays, A New History of Christianity in China (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 7.
 Tim Dowley and Pat Alexander, eds., The History of Christianity, Rev Sub edition (Oxford, England ; Batavia, Ill., USA: Chariot Victor Pub, 1990).
 Patheos, ‘Religion Library: Eastern Orthodoxy’, Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith, 2008, http://www.patheos.com/Library/Eastern-Orthodoxy.
 Bays, A New History of Christianity in China.
 Ibid., 12.
 Bays, A New History of Christianity in China.
 Ibid., 43.
 Ibid., 164.
 Ibid., 189.
 Louis Bush and Brent Fulton, China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World. (China Source, 2014), http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I3NWT00?keywords=China’s%20Next%20Generation%3A%20New%20China%2C%20New%20Church%2C%20New%20World.&qid=1456715781&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1; Kukmin Daily, ‘China Will Have the World’s Largest Christian Population in 2030’, 22 June 2016, http://www.kukmindaily.co.kr/article/view.asp?page=&gCode=7111&arcid=0010724477&code=71111101.
 Kukmin Daily, ‘China Will Have the World’s Largest Christian Population in 2030’.
 Bush and Fulton, China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World.
A Chinese translation of this article is available here
This article is intended to be a brief introduction to the church in China for Chinese who have become Christians while overseas and want to understand something about the church in China before returning there.
A common misunderstanding by many Chinese today is that Christianity only came to China very recently. In actual fact the first documented arrival of the Christian faith to China is during the Tang dynasty in 635AD[i]. In order to understand what was happening in China, we must first understand what was happening to the Christian church in Europe and the Middle East.
Strength to Stand: 31 Daily Bible Reading Notes for Chinese Returnees
The first month back home can be the most challenging time for returnees to read the Bible regularly; they lack routine and can struggle to find time alone. However, it’s also one of the most important times to be constantly reminded of God’s truth and to establish good patterns of regularly listening to Jesus in their life back home.
LINC Ministries has produced this pack of 31 daily readings going through the book of Ephesians, aimed to help form a habit of Bible reading for the first month back home. Ephesians was written to Christians who had to go against the flow in order to follow Jesus, and who were tempted to feel insignificant and weak as a result. Like many returnees, they needed to be strengthened by knowing God’s big plan for the universe, for all of eternity!
Strength To Stand is available in Chinese and English. It can be found at http:// www.seaturtles.org.uk/bible-studies/ along with lots of other resources. The link is under “Quiet Time Notes” use “Ephesians” for English and “????” for Chinese.
Bible Studies in English and Chinese from the UK
The Sea Turtles UK website has Bible study materials in English and Chinese. Go to the link below:
Two Ways to Live
This is a simplified Chinese version of a well known gospel outline. The link below is to a web version. It’s also possible to buy printed versions in English and Chinese from Matthias Media
This is a 6 part presentation of the gospel message and the materials are available in English and Chinese.
Telling Bible stories is a good way to share the gospel as well as to train new believers. This website has Chinese bible stories in Chinese that you can share with students.
Seekers Class Bible Studies
This is a series of 4 studies designed by a Chinese worker. The materials include English, Chinese characters and some Pinyin.
Updated 24 August 2018
We suggest the following options for purchasing Chinese Bibles and resources in Australia:
The Wandering Bookseller
They have a Chinese language section on the online store. They sell bibles and other Christian books in Chinese. They are well connected with student ministries and stay up-to-date on Chinese Christian literature.
Koorong is the largest Christian bookseller in Australia and they have a range of Bibles and Christian books available in Chinese. They are the main agent for the Bible Society resources including Bibles, Bible portions and other resources. Search the store for “Chinese” or “Chinese Bibles”.
Fountain of Grace
This website provides a wide selection of Christian Bibles, books, CDs, and DVDs. It has materials in Chinese and English. This web-based store is in Perth, Western Australia. The website is available in English and Chinese.
OMF sell a parallel English/Chinese New Testament with the CNV Chinese version. They produce and sell small booklets in simplified Chinese that deal with different topics like “Faith and Science” and “Relationships” etc. In recent years they have translated and published missionary biographies in Chinese as well as children’s books and other resources. Some items can be found directly in their online bookstall if you search under “Chinese” http://www.omfbooks.com.au/shop/
However many items are not listed on the website so it’s best to call them on 02 9868 4777 or contact them via their website here: Contact OMF International
If you know of any other suppliers of Chinese Christian resources in Australia please let us know via the contact page.
Written by Jane Updated 21 December 2017
There are many Bible apps available for smartphones. There is a huge variety in what features different apps have, but a few considerations to help get someone started are:
- (Obvious) Check the app has the Bible version you want.
- Does the app allow for switching between Bible versions? A big advantage is that if you have multiple versions downloaded, you can switch to the version being used by the group you are currently with.
- Do you want the ability to have parallel Bibles open on the one screen, or to swipe between screens? This is useful when, for example, two languages are being read simultaneously. Simultaneously open Bibles usually scroll together.
- Cost – many apps allow free Bible downloads, some allow in-app purchases of different versions.
The choice of apps is very much according to platform and personal preference, and the available options are constantly changing, so a detailed listing is not warranted here.
However, some useful apps are:
||iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone||– allows multiple versions to be downloaded for offline use
– CNVS, CCB, ASV, ESV, KJV, NIV all free
– copyright permission obtained for each version
|We Devote 微读圣经
|iPhone, Android||– contains 20 licensed Bible versions, including CUVNP, CCB, NIV|
||iPhone||– allows 2 versions to be simultaneously opened and displayed on the one screen
– allows many versions to be simultaneously opened, swiping between screens
– free download of Bibles including CUV, CNV, NIV
– copyright permission unclear
||Android||– allows two versions to be simultaneously opened and displayed on one screen
– free download of Bibles, offline use
– copyright permission unclear
||Android, from: 360手机助手
豌豆荚 open app store
|– fast, has references that are easy to look up
– copyright permissions unclear
Written by: Jane Updated 21st December 2017 and 17 August 2018.
Choosing a Chinese Bible involves not only choosing a version, but choosing a script and other factors as well. These are identified by a range of symbols that appear with the abbreviation for the name of the Bible translation.
Here are some of the commonly seen abbreviations:
- Chinese Union Version: CUV, CUVS, CUVT, CUVMPS, CUVMPT
- Revised Chinese Union Version: RCUV, RCUVS, RCUVT
- Chinese New Version: NCV, NCVS, NCVT or CNV, CNVS, CNVT
- Chinese Contemporary Bible: CCB
- Chinese Standard Bible: CSB, CSBS, CSBT
In addition, sometimes after the abbreviation one of the following words is used:
- Shangdi (or Shangti)
This document aims to explain the different symbols used, and issues to be considered, so a more informed decision can be made when recommending a Bible version.
1. Simplified (简体字) vs Traditional Script (繁体字)
The simplified Chinese script is used in mainland China and Singapore. The traditional script is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and by Chinese communities in other parts of SE Asia and the world. When looking at the abbreviation for a Chinese Bible translation, normally an ‘S’ is added at the end to denote the simplified script, and a ‘T’ to denote the traditional script (see lists above). We recommend a person use the script that they are most comfortable reading.
2. “Shen” Edition (神版) vs “Shangdi” Edition (上帝版)
Many of the Chinese Bible translations are available in two editions, the difference being which word is used in translation for ‘God’ (‘Shen’ or ‘Shangdi’ /’Shangti’). Some protestant Christians used to have a strong preference for one or the other word, but in recent years this generally is less divisive an issue. We recommend people use the version that their home church uses.
The most commonly used Bible in China is the Union Version, CUV, 和合本. However, this translation uses older language forms and many people who are new to Bible reading find it difficult to understand (a little like English speakers reading the King James Version for the first time). There are several newer versions that are easier to understand. In mainland China, the Union Version and Today’s Chinese Version are legally produced. Other versions need to be carried in from overseas, and may be confiscated at the border. The rise of smartphone and computer use, however, has meant that most versions are now readily available from within China. The CNV is one of the most popular newer versions.
Consideration needs to be also made for what the person’s home church uses. Many churches in mainland China have a strong attachment to the Union Version. When this is the case, we recommend that a new believer read both a newer version (such as the NCV) and the Union Version in parallel. This way they can both understand the Bible text itself and learn to read the more literary form used by their brothers and sisters.
Some details of common translations are:
Chinese Union Version, 和合本 CUV; and Revised Chinese Union Version, 和合本修订版, RCUV
The CUV was first published in 1919, and the text is now in the public domain. It is the most commonly used Chinese translation for Protestants. It “was translated by a panel with members from many different Protestant denominations, using the English Revised Version as a basis and original manuscripts for crosschecking.” (Wikipedia, 2015)
Spoken Chinese has changed since 1919 so many modern readers find this version hard to understand. In addition, many of the characters used in the original CUV do not appear in commonly available modern Chinese dictionaries. A Revised Chinese Union Version (和合本修订版, RCUV) was completed in 2006 (New Testament) and 2010 (entire Bible) that aimed at updating some of the language to reflect today’s language usage while keeping as much of the original translation style as possible. (Hong Kong Bible Society, 2016)
In addition to this, there are versions of the CUV with modern punctuation, denoted by the letters ‘MP’ (for Modern Punctuation) or ‘NP’ (for New Punctuation), e.g. CUVMPS is the Chinese Union Version Modern Punctuation Simplified script
Chinese New Version, 新译本, CNV
Abbreviated CNV (originally NCV but later changed due to confusion with the abbreviation used for English New Century Version).
- Simplified Chinese: 新译本, CNVS (or NCVS)
- Traditional Chinese: 新譯本, CNVT (or NCVT)
CNV was completed in 1992 by the Worldwide Bible Society with the assistance of the Lockman Foundation.
“This is the first Chinese Bible translated by Chinese Biblical scholars directly from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic languages into modern Chinese ever in the history of the Chinese churches…was a joint effort of a team of around 100 prominent Chinese Bible scholars and language scholars from around the world.” (Bible Gateway, 2016)
The CNV is one of the most popular versions of the Bible in China.
Chinese Contemporary Bible, 当代圣经, CCB
Also called the Chinese Living Bible.
Translated by the International Bible Society of Colorado Springs.
Translated from the original languages and designed for a general audience with a seventh grade education or above. Completed in October 2010. (Biblica, 2014)
Chinese New Living Translation, 新普及译本
A dynamic equivalent Chinese Bible. The base text is the English New Living Translation with comparison with the Greek originals.
Chinese Standard Bible, 中文标准译本, CSB
Produced in 2009 by Global Bible Initiative and Holman Bible Publishers. Currently, this translation only contains the New Testament.
“The goals of this translation are:
- To provide Chinese-speaking people across the world with an accurate, readable Bible in contemporary Chinese
- To give those who love God’s Word a text that has numerous reader helps, is visually attractive on the page, and is appealing when heard
- To equip serious Bible students with an accurate translation for personal study, private devotions, and memorization
To affirm the authority of Scripture as God’s Word and to champion its absolute truth against social or cultural agendas that would compromise its accuracy. ” (Global Bible Institute, 2015)
Chinese Recovery Version, 恢复本
This is used by the “Local Church” movement in Taiwan, and contains commentary notes written by Witness Lee. It is said the translation is good, but some Christians say the commentary notes are questionable – this movement is considered by some as a cult. (Intervarsity International Student Ministry, 2016) (Lucy Hsu and Yii-Shyun Lin, 2016)
Translations we do not recommend:
Chinese Pastoral Bible, 牧灵圣经
The Chinese edition of the Christian Community Bible, published in China by Amity Printing Company. This translation has received criticism over several significant issues, and is not generally recommended for lay people. (“Pastoral Bible (Chinese),” 2014)
New World Translation, NWT
Published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, used by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Bible Gateway. (2016). Chinese New Version (Simplified) (CNVS) – Version Information – BibleGateway.com. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Chinese-New-Version-Simplified-CNVS/
Biblica. (2014). Chinese Contemporary Bible (2010). Retrieved January 18, 2016, from http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/bible-versions/chinese-contemporary-bible-2010/
Global Bible Institute. (2015). Chinese Standard Bible. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from http://chinesestandardbible.com
Hong Kong Bible Society. (2016). Revised Chinese Union Version> Revision Principles and Process. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://www.hkbs.org.hk/en/content/14-revised-chinese-union-version3
Intervarsity International Student Ministry. (2016). Analysis of Various Translations of the Chinese Bible. Retrieved from http://ism.intervarsity.org/resource/analysis-various-translations-chinese-bible
Lucy Hsu and Yii-Shyun Lin. (2016, January 21). An Explanation of the Different Chinese Bibles. Link to article: An Explanation of the Different Chinese Bibles
Pastoral Bible (Chinese). (2018). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastoral_Bible_(Chinese)
Wikipedia. (2015, June 18). Chinese Union Version. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Union_Version