Why a Dictionary of Christian Biography in Asia?
The Bible is God’s word and God’s story of humanity from creation to new creation. History is “His-Story”, stories that have been written to inspire and instruct mankind about the redemptive relationship between God and His creation.
In some ways, the Dictionary of Christian Biography in Asia (DCBAsia) seeks to do the same. Its primary purpose is to glorify God through making available a wide collection of stories about God’s people serving Him throughout the centuries in Asia, stories that are both inspiring and instructive.
Christianity in Asia has a rich history but there is a lack of easily available material on Asians, both men and women, who have played significant roles in its growth on this continent. Much of what has been written that is widely available is about foreign, non-Asian personalities. By comparison, very little has been written about Asian Christians, and even less on indigenous Christians.
This dearth of material and scholarship on Asian Christianity is also a major reason for the launch of DCBAsia. Yet another reason is to make accounts of Asian Christians and church histories available to a wider audience before these stories are lost forever. As the centre for the growth of Christianity continues to shift from the North to the South, the need for a single database where these stories can reside in digital format becomes even more compelling.
The mission of DCBAsia is, thus, to collect, preserve and make freely available, to an audience of both scholars and general readers: 1) Biographies of church leaders and laity who have had a significant impact on the growth of Christianity in Asia; and 2) The histories of indigenous religious movements, churches, and Christian communities. Although this project was born in Malaysia, it is our prayer that an international team of Asian scholars and others will eventually form the nucleus to drive DCBAsia. This is, after all, an Asian project by Asians not just for the Asian people but for all with an interest in Christianity on this continent.
In launching this website, DCBAsia stands on the shoulders of its African predecessor. The website is modelled on www.dacb.org, the Dictionary of African Christian Biography (DACB) which was launched in 1998. We thank Dr Jonathan Bonk and Dr Michèle Sigg in particular for their help and support and for allowing us to draw on the template of DACB.
Even the biggest mustard tree grows from a tiny seed. Asia is a huge continent and we are launching this ambitious project by starting small – with stories from Malaysia and Singapore. God-willing, we will gradually expand coverage to other regions in Asia over time. While the database will include earlier time periods and different faith traditions, the focus will be on the 19th and 20th centuries.
The website will draw on contributors from different spheres, including academia, church, and mission agencies. We foresee that seminaries in the region will play an important role as participating institutions. As such, we envision a significant number of contributions to come from seminary students.
While we hope that this website will contribute to a scholarly understanding of Christianity in Asia, we aim for readability in order to cater to a general audience.
- ^ Dictionary of African Christian Biography, “Remembering the Past, Preparing for the Future”, https://dacb.org/.
- ^ Bonk, Jonathan. Skype call with Bishop Emeritus Hwa Yung and Dr Tai Kim Teng. September 24, 2020.
- ^ Sigg, Michèle. Zoom call with Dr Tai Kim Teng. July 15, 2021.
- ^ Dictionary of African Christian Biography, “Submission Guidelines”, accessed December 7, 2021, https://dacb.org/connect/submit/.