China (MNN) — Within two decades, China is on track to be the largest Christian nation in the world, according to Bibles For China.
Reports are projecting growth to over 400 million believers, and yet one thing is lacking: Bibles. Bob Drew with Bibles For China notes, "Millions Christians right now don't have Bibles in China."
Without the grounding of Scripture, new Christians are at risk of falling into heresy. Yet, the isolation prevents access. And there is another obstacle aside from remoteness and scarcity: cost. Millions of rural Chinese Christians subsist on less than $100 per year, which means a $5 Bible costs about a third of month's wages. "A lot of these people have never seen a Bible", Drew says. "They've been learning Scripture off of chalkboards; they've been learning from very, very old versions of the Bible, dating back prior to the 1940s."
The discipline required to memorize chapters at a time is admirable, but Drew says Bibles For China wants to do more. "We raise funds in developed countries that legally and openly give Bibles free of charge to the believers living in poverty-stricken areas. For Bibles for China, we focus on rural Chinese areas."
At a cost of $5.00 each, Bibles for China is currently purchasing and distributing God's Word free of charge to rural Chinese believers–complete Bibles which are legally printed in China. The need is huge: hundreds of thousands of Bibles have been requested. "When [some of them] actually got a new Bible, we had people literally break down and cry, screaming and chanting to God just how thankful they were just to have [His Word] in their hands."
Distribution teams are making three trips this year to distribute Bibles, Drew says. "We have one actually at the end of this month, in February; we have one coming up in May, and we have one in November." For this trip, Drew says, their focus is on the "Generation Y" demographic: people ages 20-35.
With a different China emerging from the one behind the Bamboo Curtain, it's important to plan ahead. Drew explains, "We want to get the next generation of missionaries engaged in getting the Word of God to China, kind of going on to that next generation of support so that the Word can continuously get into China." The idea is to produce biblical impact through information and support within a generation just starting out in life "because it's a less-established group of people, freshly out of college or just starting families."
The reception at the last distribution was surprisingly warm–another indicator that the face of new China is friendlier than the one before. Drew says, "We expected a little bit of a 'cold shoulder,' but we got the exact opposite. It was open arms while we were there."
Thinking back, their reception shouldn't have been a surprise. In fact, Drew adds, it was clear that some of the local officials had been exposed to the Gospel, too. "As soon as a Bible touches the hand of Chinese Christians, their hearts are changed. They're excited, they're jubilant, they're empowered because now they have the Word–literally at their fingertips–to share with the rest of the billion people in that country."
God's Word is making a difference in China. Want to see for yourself? Drew says, "We encourage folks to participate because they get to see the beauty of the faces of the Christians as we hand these Bibles out. A person simply needs to have a passport, a servant's heart, and the willingness to go raise funds for the trip."
Can't do that? There are other ways to help, too. "We typically encourage folks to consider giving about $100. That would be a good starting point to support someone going on a trip, and it would also provide Bibles for the Chinese people as well. But prayer is what we need to try to continue to give the Word to people in China."