China (MNN) — When most people think of Bibles headed for China, they think of smuggling past security and sneaking into an underground church for distribution.
These days, however, there is more than one route to get Bibles into China. Bibles for China is on track to meet their distribution goal of 100,000 Bibles to rural Chinese Christians this year…legally.
Wendell Rovenstine, President of Bibles for China, explains, “We purchase the Bibles from Amity Press. Amity Press has 70 distribution points throughout China in over 20 provinces. So we work in concert with relationships we have in China who are part of the registered church…and we go where we have received permission to be.”
So far, Bibles for China has distributed over 50,000 Bibles, just over half-way to meeting their goal of 100,000. With each donation of Bibles, staff with Bibles for China verify on the ground that the Bibles get in the hands of rural Christians who needed them.
Bibles for China is gearing up for another distribution in October, when they hope to give another 20,000 free, legally-printed Bibles from Amity Press to rural Christians in the registered church.
Amity Press is the only legal Bible printer in China as well as the largest Bible-printing establishment in the world. They produce an average of 2,000 Bibles per hour, and each Bible has an imprint stating it was printed legally.
Bibles printed in China are not given an ISBN number. Because of this, they can only be sold in registered churches, not public bookstores.
If you are a Christian in the registered Chinese church, to own a foreign Bible could attract suspicion about your unauthorized contacts. But if you are the average Chinese Christian who makes $100 or less per year, then buying a legal Bible through the registered church may cost you 5% of your yearly income. And if you live in a rural area of China, it’s difficult to even get your hands on a Bible whether you’re in a registered church or not.
Rovenstine recognizes the variety of situations facing Chinese Christians. “We have a lot of respect for the registered and unregistered church…. When we look at the registered and the unregistered churches, they are both in desperate need of Bibles. So for those who work with the unregistered church in China, it’s a very needed and wonderful opportunity.”
Amid the smuggling-Bibles-hype, Bibles for China exists to give Bibles to those rural Christians who are in just as much need in the registered church. “There are thousands of people a day through revelation of the Holy Spirit who are receiving Christ, and there’s an unbelievable need for Bibles in China. We’re just trying to do our part and get as many [Bibles] as we can there through the registered church as quickly as possible,” says Rovenstine.
It costs just $5 to provide a legal Bible to a rural Chinese Christian. With Bibles for China preparing for their next distribution in October, they can use all the help they can get.