Bringing our Bible to China

Bibles To China
Claretian Father Alberto Rossa sits on the rooftop of a Buddist monestary in Hong Kong

Publishing a Bible in communist China is a daunting challenge. But it's one that Claretian Father Alberto Rossa didn't shy away from. "We have so many spiritual resources in the West, and so little in China. It is time to share, and China is waiting," says Father Rossa, creator of the Christian Community Bible, a Catholic Pastoral Bible the Claretians publish in six countries and 11 languages.

The Christian Community Bible was created in 1988 when Father Rossa, then editor of Claretian Publications in the Philippines, saw the need for a Bible "for the people." Since then the Bible has been translated into 11 languages, with several others in various stages of preparation. This year alone Father Rossa hopes to complete and publish Vietnamese, Tamil (India), and Bahasa (Indonesia) translations, along with a new pastoral Bible, La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo [Our People's Bible], written in Spanish for Latinos in the U.S. and Latin America.

The unlikeliest success story, though, is the Chinese translation, a project that began as a dream 15 years ago.

"Our publishing house in the Philippines was founded 25 years ago; 10 years later we started dreaming about a big project for China," says Father Rossa. "Bringing our Bible to China was a far-fetched dream, but a dream that became a reality."

"The words of Jesus, 'Go out to the whole world and preach the Good News,' hold a special meaning to me," Father Rossa continues, "as does the instruction of our founder, Saint Anthony Claret, to his missionaries: 'Use all means possible to spread the Good News in ways that are most urgent, timely, and effective!' To be in China as missionaries, as we are in other countries, is not yet possible. So why not try to be present by other means?"

After working closely with the Chinese government to obtain permission to print and sell the Bibles, Father Rossa's team introduced the Bibles in mainland China, selling them at low cost to ensure anyone who wanted a Bible could afford one. Since its release, the Christian Community Bible has sold more than 250,000 copies in China.

When he was in the Philippines, Father Rossa dreamed about reaching out to China. Now that he has seen that goal become a reality, he has turned down a new path, one more far-reaching, into the heart of China.

"China has to be evangelized by the Chinese, and our contribution through publishing is to help in the formation of these evangelizers. My dream now is to go all the way, to establish not just a Bible, but an entire publishing house in China."

"In April I was in Guanchong, a city of eight million people. There were many people of all ages devotedly attending and participating in the Mass," says Father Rossa. "I felt a special connection with all of them."

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