China (MNN) — You'd think that 30,000 Bibles would quench the thirst for God's Word in China.
"It just barely scratches the need," says Barry Werner with Bibles for China. "There are 35,000 people coming to Christ each day; about 50% of those [are] in the remote, rural areas where we go.
"30,000 Bibles basically was 2 days' worth of converts in rural China."
Leading a team of four, Werner traveled recently to remote areas of China, armed with a simple task: to verify that 30,000 Bibles, purchased in China with donated funds, reached the hands of rural Chinese believers.
"Verification we could do with a stone face," says Werner. "But when you get in amongst the people and hand a Bible to a person that has never had one, that's where the emotional part is a little bit overwhelming at times."
This was par for the course, but something else made the October trip a little different than the others.
"Normally we go in and we don't even see a government official, unless there's some problem with a permit or some sort of visa problem," explains Werner. But with national leadership changing on November 15, he says a government official was assigned to accompany their team to every church they visited.
"That really put a different spin on our whole trip…. We had a government official with us at every meal and at every church we went to."
Werner and his team planned to speak for 5 minutes at each congregation they visited. He says the presence of government officials made them second-guess the words they would use, but in the end, they decided to speak exactly what God had laid upon their hearts.
"Each man on my team made the commitment that we would just follow through and be as pointed as we possibly could and speak just to the Christians, and let the government official be an eyewitness to what we had to say," Werner says.
As a result, two of the four officials who accompanied Werner's team heard the Gospel and showed interest in learning more. They gave a Bible to each official, and one even helped hand them out at a church. Werner described the other official as "a man of high integrity" and went to his supervisor before accepting the gift of God's Word.
"He went to his boss–or his supervisor, as I look at it–and asked him [for] permission to have that Bible. And when he got permission, he was just overwhelmed," recounts Werner. "It was just amazing to watch him clutch it to his chest… [It was] quite an emotional moment to watch that happen."
Healing sparked revival in one remote area: Werner spoke with two people about a man born mute who regained his speech, and a woman who lost all her hair in China's ten-year Cultural Revolution. Werner says their stories reminded him of the apostles' claims to be "eyewitnesses" of Jesus' death and resurrection.
"In America, we take all these things with a grain of salt. But I met two eyewitnesses in China that talked about a miracle," says Werner. "One lady that during the Cultural Revolution…lost all her hair became an outcast in her own village.
"The only Christian living in that area befriended her and told her he served a God of miracles and that she should give her life to Christ and should pray to Christ and ask for healing."
She did, and her hair grew back–an unspoken testimony to her neighbors. The woman started a Bible study in her home, drawing crowds of people who had heard about her miracle. One of the attendees was born mute; when he accepted Christ as his Savior, the crowds prayed for his healing.
"The Lord gave him a voice, and he's no longer mute but he had a complete, perfect vocabulary," says Werner. "All the people that were there agreed with it: they were eyewitnesses of what they had seen."
The church in this rural area has grown to over 600 Christ-followers as a result of their stories. The pastor told Werner that the Bibles his team delivered couldn't have come at a better time.
"When the miracles take place, there's a chance people will go to superstition unless they have a Bible to ground their truth," Werner says. "It was really a great blessing to hand a Bible to everyone in that church at the same time that they're in the midst of all of this revival based on some of these miracles."
When believers in China get their first Bible, they often read it cover-to-cover in 6 weeks.
"Five other people will read that Bible in the first year, on average, and three of those five people will commit their life to Christ after they read the Bible," adds Werner.
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