Christianity is growing fast among Việt Nam’s 50 or so minority ethnic groups.
In fact,today they account for around 60 per cent of the country’s Protestant Christians.
Many of them are eager to have the Bible in their language, and Unites Bible Societies’s Việt Nam Partnership is working with the churches to make that happen.
“I have had a lifelong dream to see the complete Bible translated into my language, Rade,” says one pastor, 72, who became a Christian as a child.
Having lived through the terrors of the Việt Nam war, during which he lost his home and family members and suffered years of imprisonment, he says that it was only his faith which kept him strong.
“I emerged from my time in prison, which included daily indoctrination and mental abuse, even more on fire for God than before.”
Growing wave of Christianity
“So, from 1981, when I was released, I and a few others worked on translating the whole Bible into Rade.
Over the years, many house churches emerged and the Good News spread like wildfire among people who had suffered so much.
A small revival slowly changed into a growing wave of Christianity.”
Today, around half of Việt Nam’s 270,000 Rade-speakers are Christians.
They only have 40 ordained pastors to lead them, and they still do not have the full Bible in their language, due to a number of complications.
But this is soon to change:
Since 2004, UBS has been working with the Protestant and Catholic churches to revise and finalise the draft that was completed in 2000, and printing will begin in December.
By next year, the Rade people will finally receive their Bible.
Jarai New Testament project
Another minority translation project currently under way is the Jarai New Testament project, also due for publication in 2013.
There are around 160,000 Jarai-speaking Christians, and that number is growing.
“I am overjoyed to be helping translate God’s Word into the language of my people.”
Smiles Pastor Hạnh, 37.
“I was born into a Christian family and studied at a seminary, which I thoroughly enjoyed because I was learning to be of service to my people in the best possible way.”
Translating is a challenge
Mr Hạnh, who leads a growing village church of 800 people, admits that he finds that translating the Bible can be a challenge.
“But that’s where our excellent Translation Consultants come in.”
“They help us to find the right way to express certain difficult concepts.
We hope to have all the text drafted by the end of this year.”
22,000 Bahnar Christians
Christianity among Việt Nam’s 200,000 Bahnar-speakers has grown more slowly, with around 22,000 active church-goers.
Their traditional religion is animism, and they worship trees, mountains and animals.
Pastor Samsan, 43, says that his father was only the second Bahnar-speaker to become a Christian, back in 1963.
“Bahnar people find it hard to understand the concept of salvation but more and more are now turning to God.”
“I am so thankful that there is a translation project to produce the Bible in our modern day Bahnar language.
This will help to keep our language alive and, more importantly, help people to understand God and his love for them.”
Source: The Bible Society of Singapore