"We Miao do not have writing. For thousands of years we have been like the blind, it has been very bitter. Everybody knows that there is nothing worse in the world than to be blind, however shimmering is the sun in the sky, however shining is the moon in the sky, however clear are the rivers and mountains on the earth, however beautiful are the flowers in the wilderness, the blind cannot see them anyway." - Wang Mingji, a Miao pastor
I have had a link for the Joshua Project on my page for a while. The Joshua project identifies the people groups of the world that have little or no exposure to the Gospel. It provides the information to encourage pioneer church-planting movements among every ethnic people group. Each day a different people group is automatically displayed on their website, for prayer. Today it was the Qanu people of China. The Qanu are part of the Hmong/Miao people group. I have had a bit of a heart for the Hmong tribes in Laos for a few years now and so was interested to read the full profile for the Qanu people. The quote i included above is an extract from that profile. I hadn't realised before that the Hmong don't actually have writing at all. On reflection it's pretty obvious and makes sense - i know their culture has a long standing oral tradition. I found the above quote quite moving though. Not only does it cause consideration of what it is to be literally blind (though that's not it's primary purpose), but it portrays the value of writing even more. It would be very difficult to translate the Bible into a language which doesn't have a written form as well. It could appear quite a bold claim to compare the lack of a written script with blindness, but when you consider the worth of reading something like the Bible then it is easily akin to blindness. It reminds me of a quote i read a long time ago, by John Piper:
"I love the Bible the way i love my eyes - not because my eyes are lovely, but because without them i can't see what's lovely. Without the Bible i could not see "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Without the Bible i could not know "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Without the Bible i would not know that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour. I love the Bible because it gives me the wisdom that leads to salvation, and shows me that this salvation is nothing less than seeing and savoring the glory of Christ forever, and then provides for me inexhaustible ways of seeing and knowing and enjoying Christ. "
N.B. I'm aware that it is a bit of a generalisation for Wang Mingji to say that 'there is nothing worse in the world than to be blind' - i'm sure that there are many people who are blind and still quite happy. I'm also aware that God is much bigger than writing and can still meet with people who don't have access to a written bible.