From Reviewer to Renewed
A volunteer Chinese reviewer of Our Daily Bread takes on the challenge to serve God—and finds herself being transformed in the process.
The Chinese editorial team, including Liew Inn Shean (third from right), meets every quarter to review translations of Our Daily Bread and other biblical resources from the ministry.
When Liew Inn Shean was first asked to help review Chinese translations of Our Daily Bread, she never expected to be one of the first readers to gain from the life-changing wisdom of God’s Word in such a personal way.
Although her task was to help ensure that Chinese translations of the articles were accurate, she soon discovered herself gaining from the work as much as she gave to it, as God used His living Word to transform her and make her more Christ-like.
The longtime volunteer’s association with Our Daily Bread Ministries had started in 2006, after a friend from her Bible study class connected her with a ministry staff. Then in her 50s, the former teacher and wife of a Chinese pastor had agreed, believing she could use her bilingual ability, years of experience teaching English and literature, and familiarity with the Bible to serve God.
“I had just retired and my children were grown up, so I was quite free,” she recalls. “And I thought I had an advantage knowing traditional Chinese.”
Besides, adds Inn Shean, she herself had grown up reading Our Daily Bread. Having been introduced to the devotional since Sunday School, she had read it for many years, and found the articles inspiring and helpful in understanding more of God’s Word.
“I wanted to serve God in whatever way I could,” she says. “Besides, I love languages too!”
At first, Inn Shean was asked to just proofread the translated articles. But when she began to also give her comments on the content, staff from the Chinese translation team could see that she had more to offer.
“Her feedback on our translations were very good, and we accepted all her suggestions,” recalls Georgina Wang, who heads the Chinese editorial team. “So we invited her to help review the translations with the editorial team.”
From Teacher to Student
In the beginning, Inn Shean took to the task as a veteran teacher would—pointing out mistakes with a critical eye as she combed through the articles. At the quarterly reviews, she would join the team as they met to review the Chinese translations thoroughly.
Among other things, this team—which includes experienced translators, language experts, and Chinese pastors from around the region—checks that the translation accurately reflect the intention and meaning of the original pieces in English, while also being biblically precise. Where needed, they sometimes replace illustrations or phrases so that the articles will be culturally sensitive and relevant to readers across Asia.
“I would vet everything carefully and try to spot every single thing,” says Inn Shean. “But as a former teacher, I tended to be judgmental and critical, always asking, ‘Why is this written like that?’ ”
Over time, however, she noticed that her teammates took a slightly different approach to mistakes. “I was quick to jump on people, but the rest were very gracious,” she recalls. “They would ask instead, “What does this mean?’ It reminded me not to be so prickly, like a hedgehog, and to be more gracious in my reviews.”
At the same time, Inn Shean also discovered God teaching her new things about her character and His ways through the articles she reviewed.
“Somehow, the articles would often speak directly to my circumstances or my struggles. God was using the materials to challenge or encourage me,” she says.
For example, when she was struggling with health issues or feeling overwhelmed by parenting challenges at home, Inn Shean would find comfort and encouragement in an article that gave her hope to carry on.
She also saw God using His Word to continue His work of transformation in her life over the years.
“When I was younger, I used to be a perfectionist and more self-centred,” she says. “I was less concerned about serving and more concerned about my own free time. But over the years, God mellowed me and made more ready to serve.”
Still Serving Today
Today, Inn Shean continues to be an integral part of the quarterly review of the Chinese-language Our Daily Bread.
She believes that this is one way of using her God-given background, skill, and experience—and her free time—to serve Him. “I love languages, and I think God had prepared me for this task,” she says.
Inn Shean, who was born in Malaysia, had grown up in a Chinese-speaking family and even married a Chinese pastor, but ended up being also fluent in English. In her own ministry, she also teaches English to students who need help in the language, and often helps her husband interpret when ministering to people during wake services and hospital visits.
“She’s our model,” says Georgina. “We’re so inspired by her humility and by the way she carries out her works diligently and faithfully. She always makes time to help others even when she has her own challenges. She shows her love for God by serving others.”
The ever-modest Inn Shean, however, is quick to play this down. “Well, I love languages and I love God’s Word, and I’m learning so much about joy as I get older. It’s an unexpected blessing.”