HONG KONG – Chinese Christians from Hong Kong and Macau dedicated a memorial to Robert Morrison, the 19th-century missionary credited with writing the first Chinese-language translation of the English Bible.
Over 250 people, including pastors from the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, were present for opening ceremony of The Morrison Memorial Center of Macau, this past Saturday.
Macau, where Morrison spent his life’s work translating the Bible, is the site of the historic missionary’s final resting place.
Though his Chinese-translations are generally viewed as indiscernible by most Chinese scholars, Morrison’s work is still seen as an important milestone for Christian history in China.
The new center will serve as an information-exchange location for Macau churches to promote evangelism in both Macau and Hong Kong.
Morrison’s Work in China
The Scottish-born missionary first crossed the ocean at age 25 with the intent to preach the gospel to Qing-era China, which was generally hostile to foreigners.
After failing to secure permission to enter the country, Morrison settled in Macau - then a Portuguese trading-colony.
Drawing on his earlier setback, Morrison insightfully advised his patrons at the London Missionary Society (LMS) to train local Chinese to be missionaries in an era when white-European missionaries dominated the China missions sphere.
He later urged the LMS to develop the Chinese Research Center, which would print Chinese-language material to bring the gospel to Chinese reader. The center was not established until after Morrison’s death in 1834.
In 1818, Morrison used his own money to found Ying Wa College, the first Anglo-Chinese school in the world. The school, which still stands today, has been the alma mater for many leading figures in Hong Kong society since then.
Throughout his career, Morrison often faced financial difficulties and often relied on a friend “Shi,” whom he converted along with another Chinese believer. Both men would later assist Morrison in creating the first Chinese-language translation of the English Bible.
“It is amazing how Morrison overcame long spells of loneliness while evangelizing through publication to a people whom were alien in culture to that of the British,” said Rev. David Wang of Macau Times, which often writes on Christian activities in the region.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Scottish missionary’s arrival to Macau. A service to memorialize the pioneering missionary was held at “Igreja Chi Tou” church in Macau.
Editor's Note - Gospel Herald reporters Carol Yu in Hong Kong and Claudia Cheng in San Francisco contributed to this report.