China (MNN) — There’s horrible persecution of Christians in China. There’s no persecution of Christians in China. There are lots of Bibles available. Christians in China don’t have their own Bibles because they’re hard to get.
These statement are both true and not true. China is a massive country, and what might be true in one part of the country may not be true in another part. There’s also the question of access versus availability.
Because of the work of Amity Printing Press in Nanjing, Bibles are available in China…but not everyone knows where to get one. That’s especially true in the rural, less-developed parts of the country.
Many people living in rural China already know the love of God, but for most families, their hard-earned income barely covers basic needs. Their Bible reading is restricted to pages they have copied, passages they have memorized, or tattered Bibles shared among the village.
Enter: Bibles for China. Their mission is to provide God’s Word, free of charge, to Christians living in remote, economically-depressed areas of rural mainland China. The ministry works with the above-ground established Church in order to get the job done. Bob Drew, Chief Advancement Officer for Bibles For China, explains, “The purpose for sending teams over to China is to validate and distribute the Bibles that are purchased” and to make sure “that they’re the actual Word of God and that they actually make it into the hands of the poor Chinese rural Christians in the countryside of China.”
Further, Bibles for China raises money in developed countries to buy complete Bibles written in Mandarin Chinese. At a cost of $5.00 each, Bibles for China purchases and distributes these Bibles to rural Chinese Christians at no cost to them. However, the drawback, Drew says, is “we are just one organization; it’s difficult for us to provide for the 1.25 billion people that are in China. But what we try to do when we distribute Bibles is to share that information with our in-country partners that Bibles will be distributed to them through other organizations, and just hopefully provide that opportunity and share their stories.”
Drew says it’s the heart stories that build global bridges. On his last trip, the team was in a mountainside village and were all set to help a smallish local church provide 200 Bibles to the community. At the last second, the translator told them that word had gotten out, and 500 people showed up for a Bible.
Drew explains that as the pastor announced that more people had shown up than planned, and that not everyone would receive a Bible, the room became silent. Faces went from elated to burdened. Then the crippling silence was broken by one older woman. “The senior Christians–the older Christians, some of them have been waiting 40+ years for a Bible–chose to give their Bibles to the new believers so that every new believer in that room got a Bible. The senior Christians chose to just wait for an opportunity that may or may not come. But it really was a beautiful vision of their faith and their trust in God for His provision, and the love they had for their fellow Christians.”
Remember the part about how vast China is? That’s why Bibles For China never goes to the same place twice. “Because the church is growing so fast in China, we would be stretched to even try to get back to the same place twice because there are so many other people that don’t even have the Word of God in their area.”
The door is open to give rural Chinese Christians the spiritual resources they need and pray for–the resources they need to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and bring new people into the family of God. Drew says that’s why they work with the local established church. “We try to also make connections while we’re over there to encourage the leaders, to track the need, and even work with some of our in-country partners to share that with them.”
How effective is this approach? One of their partners conducted an informal survey one year after a Bible distribution. The initial findings showed that many of the Bibles had been read cover to cover in six weeks, most Bibles were shared with five others (both friends and family), and three of those five committed their life to Christ after reading the Bible. That’s why Bibles For China encourages the prayer partners, the support partners, and the partners who will tell the stories. “We have 2-3 teams a year that go out and distribute these Bibles throughout the entire season. Folks can come with us, they can apply right on our Web page. They can learn more about the mission itself, learn about how we do it, how we go about do it and then they can partner with us in the ministry field to distribute these Bibles to China.” (Teams are forming now for the November trip. Click here for links.)