Millions in China still waiting for a Bible

In recent years, we’ve supported the work to provide Bibles for Christians in China.

Many of you have been partners in this mission allowing Chinese Christians to receive Bibles for the first time. Once again this year, we’ve committed to bringing Bibles to Chinese Christians.

Since the 1980s, the church in China has experienced rapid growth – unofficial estimates put the number of Christians today at 100 million. Although much of this growth is taking place in poor rural areas, Christians can be found right across China.

Man with Bible at church in Henan Province, China

For example, below, you’ll read the stories of three different Christians, all of whom came to faith through reading the Bible. There are many others who are waiting to receive a Bible for the first time as well.

One thing many Christians have in common is poverty. In rural areas many Chinese people live a life of subsistence farming that has been unchanged for centuries. Others migrate to the cities for work where they live in cramped, miserable conditions surviving on low wages, which they send home to their families.

For every one of these Christians, the Bible will be a precious gift, something they could not otherwise afford. Read on to learn how the Bible is changing lives in China.

“After six months of reading the Bible to believers, I became a Christian.”

Rev. Yin Jianhui, 51, Hunan Province

The year was 1983 and Rev. Yin (pictured right) had just graduated from high school. She was asked by a group of about eight elderly people in her neighbourhood to read the Bible to them because they were illiterate. At that time, the churches had yet to reopen in the area after the Cultural Revolution. Thinking it was a good thing to help people, she agreed. Soon, she came to really enjoy her Bible reading sessions with them.

“I would read a passage of the Bible to them and they would discuss and explain it. One elderly lady, the one who owned the Bible and had been a Christian for many years before the Cultural Revolution, would explain what we’d just heard. I would sit and listen to the explanations, then read for them another passage and so on,” recalled Rev. Yin.

“The elderly believer also owned an old hymnal but they didn’t know the songs and couldn’t sing it, so I taught them too, because I knew how to read music. So we’d sing together and read the Bible.”

Men with the new Bibles they received during a Bible distribution in their rural church. Hunan Province, China.

Then some time later, Rev. Yin’s baby nephew fell ill and cried all the time. It seemed nothing could help him. By then, she had learnt the Lord’s Prayer by heart. “I didn’t really know how to pray so I just recited it to try and help the little boy. It worked and he got better! So then, after six months of reading the Bible to these believers, I became a Christian.”

Today, Rev. Yin is the Chairman of the Yiyang Christian Council in Hunan Province, overseeing the work of 265 churches and continuing to read and teach the Bible to believers in China.

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“The Bible moved me to repentance.”

Zhang Tao, 35, Yunnan

Zhang Tao (pictured right) comes from a middle-income family. His father, now in retirement, held a respectable job as a lecturer in a teachers’ training college and his mother was a factory worker. With no financial worries to trouble him, life should have been comfortable and smooth sailing. However, an early entry into the work force at 15 led him into bad company and drugs.

Once hooked, this destructive habit of substance abuse was to plague him for the next 16 years. “During those 16 years, I suffered tremendous physical and mental torture. Countless times, when the hope of overcoming the addiction diminished, my despair would become unbearable,” Zhang  recounted. Not wanting to see his parents’ despondence, he left home, only returning when he was at his wits end.

However, even in this dark crisis, God was not far away. In October 2011, he received his first Bible at a drug rehabilitation centre. “I held it carefully in my hands because it felt like I had just received a sacred gift. My heart was filled with joy and I was very touched.”

Free Bible distribution in Meijia, a village outside Hefei, Anhui Province, China.

Curious about the book and its contents, Zhang began reading in earnest. “The Bible moved me to repentance. In that process, I also received hope and comfort. It helped me get out of my drug addiction which had tormented me for 16 years.”

The Bible has so spiritually invigorated and motivated Zhang that he is currently aspiring towards gaining a theological education. To him, the Bible is the guiding compass of life. “Without it, a person loses his direction in life,” Zhang shared with conviction.

“Without the Bible, my life would not be transformed at all and I would still be living in my past pain and struggles, caught in a chaotic lifestyle, steeped with interpersonal problems. Now, I can live a truly joyful life in Christ. The Word of God has strengthened me to face the challenges of life and not be fearful of failure. Because of his Word, I can press on courageously.”

“Without the Bible, there is no solid ground.”

Wu Zhe, 29, Shanghai

For Wu Zhe (pictured right), the most difficult period of his life was in 2009 when he couldn’t find a proper job after graduating from university in Changsha, Hunan Province. “I was learning taiji [Tai chi] then with the hope of starting a business. Because I did not have any capital, I was also selling rosemary at a roadside stall to support myself. However, one day while manning the stall, I was beaten up by some thugs! Then, I worked as a dish washer in a restaurant for one week but was not paid for my labour.”

Exasperated, Wu went from Changsha to Shenzhen and finally to Shanghai where he worked as a copywriter. It was during his time in Shanghai that he first read the Bible.

“I got to know a Christian whom I thought had something quite special. Curious about Christianity, I bought a Bible from the church bookshop. I wanted to understand the teachings of the Bible by reading it myself and not just listening to other people’s views of it.”

Launch of the Liso Annotated Bible 2015.

So Wu started his journey of discovery, reading the Bible from cover to cover as well as consulting other Christian materials and interacting with believers, bringing it everywhere he went. “I reckoned that in order to understand the message of the Bible I needed to read it through once. It was through reading the New Testament that I came to know Jesus personally. Tears rolled down my face as I began to understand that it was for my sins that Jesus was crucified. That was how I came to faith,” recalled Wu.

Wu was so moved by God’s love for him that he has since been buying Bibles as gifts for non-believing friends around him who expressed interest. “The Bible helps me understand what moral standards in life I ought to have and gives me a sense of belonging and meaning in life.

“I wish more people would come to know the truth and receive life from God. Without the Bible, there would be no solid ground, I would be in the dark without any guiding light.”

There are millions more like Wu, Zhang and Rev. Yin desperately waiting for the Bible.

You can be part of their Bible transformation story. Your gift will help get the Bible to people longing to receive God’s Word. They’re waiting now for the Bible.

You can help reach these people 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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