God's Spirit Hovers Over China
100 Million Bibles, A Billion Opportunities
March 06, 2012Print this article
Barely more than 30 years ago, printing a Bible in China was illegal. Yet later this year, Amity Printing Company in Nanjing will roll its 100 millionth Bible — legally — off the printing presses. This event is nothing short of miraculous.
When God's Word goes out into the world, it does not return void; it accomplishes the work that God intends for it to do. One Bible can become a family's treasure; one Bible can be read in groups and shared with communities. One Bible can reach souls that far outnumber the one to whom it was given. The stories of men and women in China whom God has reached through the Scriptures are evidence of his Word at work in the world.
A Family Treasure
Elder Fu Xianwei, left, Chairman of the Three- Self Patriotic Movement (the officially recognized Chinese Church), remembers the Bible his grandmother read faithfully. “My grandmother was a devout Christian,” Fu says in an interview with United Bible Societies China Partnership (UBSCP). “She would cherish the household's only Bible . . . and regard it as a prized possession. Any family members who wanted to read the Bible would have to borrow it from her.”
Fu, a third-generation Christian, credits his grandmother's practice of daily Bible reading as one of the things that helped to bring him to the faith: “Without missing a day,” he says, “she would sit on the veranda every afternoon and read the Bible. From my grandmother's life, I learned to treasure the Bible.”
Fu's beloved family Bible was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Yet the faith he learned from his grandmother remained strong, and today he is the leader of a church with 23 million members.
The Bible on Campus
Maple Yuan, a college student majoring in teaching English, borrowed the first Bible she ever read from a friend because she wanted to learn more about Western culture.
“It's so important to them,” Yuan says, referring to Westerners. “[The] Bible is everything.”
But God had much more in store for Yuan than just a primer on culture in the West “I read [the] Bible within a month from the Old Testament to the New Testament,” Yuan says. She did not believe it, she goes on to say, but she read it: “I think God planted a seed at that time.”
After Yuan graduated, she met a Christian pastor and his wife who had come to China from Texas. Yuan was going through a difficult period in her life, and was drawn to the warmth and love she felt from this pastor and his wife. So she began to ask them about God.
“I felt I had been called,” Yuan remembers. “I confessed my sin, wanted to be a believer . . . [and] I became a Christian.”
“I read the Bible again, of course!” Yuan concludes. “I was the first one in my family to be saved.”
Sandy Yingying Gu also read Scripture for the first time while in college. “ I had never read the Bible,” she says, but after hearing the testimonies of some exchange students from the United States, “I felt the urge to have what they had.”
“When they shared their testimony, they always referred to the Bible. ‘Bible says this, Bible says that,' and I didn't know what they were talking about. I wanted to find out why the Bible had so much authority that they'd always talk about it,” Gu states. And so she talked to them. “They showed me some verses from their Bibles,” she says, “and then I found a Bible and bought one. My first Bible.”
The experience of opening the Word of God for the first time was a powerful one for Gu. “At first, I was panicked,” she recalls. “[The] first time you touch the Word of God, you open the Bible, it feels very different.”
But then, “I found that it was amazing.” God transformed Gu's life through his Word.
Printing the Word
Stories like those of Yuan and Gu are possible because of the work God is doing through Amity Printing Company and the Church in China, and their partnership
with the Bible Societies. Yang Chen, who works for Amity, discovered the power of God's Word right there at the company through a co-worker named Xie.
“The first time I met Xie,” Yang recalls in an interview with UBSCP, “I was put off by her brusqueness. However, some time later, I noticed an amazing change in her life. I was told she has embraced the Christian faith.”
Soon after, Yang, Xie and several of their colleagues were assigned to difficult work on one of the machines at the printing press. “One time when everyone was idling around and complaining about work,” Yang says, “they started to make fun of Xie, asking her to explain why God was not making their work life easier.” Rather than getting offended, Yang remembers, “[Xie] just walked over to them and shared the Gospel. She shared about a Father in Heaven who loved us so much that he created us in his image.”
Yang, who does not normally consider herself an “emotional person,” found herself inexplicably moved by what Xie said. “I did not know why, but after listening to what she had shared, I was so touched by his love for us I had to hold back my tears.” Soon after, Yang attended church with Xie, and eventually became a believer.
As a new Christian, Yang says she was “fascinated with the Bible.” Surrounded by God's Word at the press, “when I was not on duty at work, I could read the Bible all day without getting bored.” Yang thanks the donors of United Bible Societies for their help in making the Gospel message a reality for her and her brothers and sisters in Christ in China.
Fang Xiaodong also came to know Christ through work at Amity Printing Company. “I did not want to believe,” Fang says, recalling his initial resistance to the Gospel. But through the living testimonies of his wife, his boss and another co-worker at Amity, Fang's heart was changed. “I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,” he says.
Challenges at work led Fang to increase the time he spent reading the Bible, and in prayer. He also relates that his faith then helped him resist corruption at work. Recalling the time he was offered a bribe and turned it down, Fang says: “I thank God that I had a Bible on my table to remind me that Christians should not accept bribes.” Corruption is antithetical to Fang's new life as a believer.
“People would say that I am foolish not to take bribes,” he admits, “but I would say that whoever does things in the dark does not belong to the Light and does not glorify God.”
Bibles for the Future
As Amity moves on to printing its next 100 million Bibles, additional challenges and opportunities to spread the Gospel await. Increasing urbanization in China means that as more rural Chinese move to cities, the need for Bibles increases, as does the need for Bibles in different formats such as audio Bibles, Braille Bibles and Bibles for children.
These are challenges that the Church in China meets willingly with support from believers worldwide. Amity and its partners rejoice with believers in printing its 100 millionth Bible and are dedicated to continuing to bring the Word of God to his people throughout China and the rest of the world. It is the Bible Societies' hope and prayer that someday, no believer will ever be without a Bible. With your help, we can make this vision come true.
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