Chinese Christians are known for their love of reading the Bible. “Regardless of their educational background, they all want to have a Bible with them. When they are faced with difficulties or during a quiet moment, they will want to read the Bible,” says Elder Fu Xianwei, Chairman of the Protestant Churches of China.
The Bible has gone from being banned, confiscated, burned and destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, to becoming the best selling book in China. All this has happened within a couple of decades and is due in part to the establishment of the Amity Printing Company (APC), now the largest Bible press in the world.
The printing and distribution of the Bible has helped fuel this explosive growth of the church in China. It is believed unofficially there are now more than 100 million Christians in China with one million coming to faith each year. Some estimates suggest that by 2030 China will have more Christians than the USA. The church in China has become one of the fastest growing churches in the world in modern history. But as the church grows exponentially, millions of Bibles are needed yearly to meet the ever-growing demand.
“This means there is a huge Bible ministry need in China. Millions are becoming Christians and they need the Word of God for their faith to be nurtured. In addition, many of these new Christians are poor and live in the rural central and western regions of China. They need a first Bible. Or they are seasoned poor Christians with worn out tattered Bibles.
“The Bibles for China’s Millions project aims to enable millions in China to buy a copy of the Bible at an affordable price. “It is our prayer that the billion in China will be impacted by the Word of God for the blessings of all nations in this century and beyond,” says Kua Wee Seng, Director, United Bible Societies China Partnership.
Up and up the windy dirty path, Bible Society representatives from USA, Britain and Netherlands joined local church leaders on a long and mountainous trek too narrow and dangerous for their van to pass through. With heavy loads on their backs, many of these foreigners weren’t used to this labour.
Nonetheless their faces lit up with joy and their steps were light. Although few words were uttered to the locals as there was no common language, these Christians served a single purpose, united under God’s banner of love. Their task was to bring boxes of Bibles to be given out free in the rural areas where 70 percent of China’s Christians live. As they approached the village churches, they were welcomed like celebrities. The church band began playing, throngs of church members who had been camping out since early morning, rushed to greet the guests singing praises to God.
Despite the cold wintery air, many elderly, rural Christians could not be deterred from coming. While the village of Christians waited to receive their Bibles, many of whom were getting their very first, tears of joy streamed down their faces.
Some spoke of waiting more than 10 years to own a Bible.
A Bible is a precious gift to Chinese Christians.
Getting Scripture to where the need is great
Christians living in the Henan province of China are hungry for the Bible, but are either too poor to buy one or have been using the same, now worn out, Bible for 20 years.
A team from United Bible Societies visited Tongxu County in this province late last year to distribute Bibles. Here, 30,000 Christians worship in 67 churches of varying sizes, pastored by two elders and 200 lay preachers. Even though the Chinese economy has developed and grown tremendously, the income gap between city and rural dwellers is vast. In Tongxu County, residents are mainly farmers who grow potatoes and carrots for sale. In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for these small scale farmers to make a sustainable living due to greater competition.
Elder Hou’s story
Elder Hou Fengxian is a 53-year old farmer and volunteer elder at Sunyingxiang Church. Since his graduation from Henan Bible School, he has been serving the congregation for 20 years.
Elder Hou says he needs more Bibles, “We have many new baptised members and we can’t afford to buy more Bibles. There are also seekers who would like a Bible so they can read God’s Word for themselves. Some of our Bibles are more than 20 years old and need to be replaced.”
Every Sunday, Elder Hou conducts a 20-minute Bible Reading session for his congregation. About a quarter of them cannot read well so this session helps their reading skills.
The Bible is my treasure
Deaconess Zheng Jingdan is 74-years-old. Her parents brought her to faith and she has been serving the church since it started in 1982. One of her daughters-inlaw is also a deaconess. The Bible is her treasure. She reads the Bible every morning, memorising verses first before making breakfast.
So far, she has memorised the whole book of Psalms. When one of her sons became a Christian last year, she got him a Bible. “The Lord knows our needs here and has provided for us through your giving. Thank God and thank you!”
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You can help reach Chinese Christians by supporting the cost of Bible paper to keep Bibles affordable, or your gift could help make free Bibles available to those who can’t afford to buy one. Thank you for prayerfully considering how you can help bring the Bible to people in China.
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