China (MNN) — What does it mean to receive a Bible after years and years of being a follower of Christ?
Many families in China will soon get to find out.
Joel Gerber of Bibles for China filled us in on the great need for the Word of God in China as they get ready to head there to distribute Bibles.
Gerber says, “We believe that taking the Word of God into China is the way that we as an organization can support the mission of the Church in China–that is, to develop Christianity in a way that is done by the Chinese Christian Council, through the Church in China rather than just sending missionaries and trying to do church in a western style.”
Bibles for China operates within the laws of China, believing it to be more effective to get the Gospel to rural areas.
“This is our opportunity to get God’s Word into the hands of those that are needing and wanting those Bibles so that they can learn and develop and grow, disciple and meet the call for God’s plan for that nation,” Gerber says.
The organization is hosted by the Chinese Christian Council who connects them to churches in need.
“When I use the term ‘church,’ we’re talking about fellowships of believers that might be meeting in somebody’s home, they might be meeting in a very old, run-down barn in some rural areas, and there’s some that have larger, established churches,” says Gerber.
Through various sources, Bibles for China estimates the needs at each church. However, there are many times where much more than they were told to expect show up, and they are sometimes forced to send some families away empty handed. As it is, usually only one Bible is available per family. Gerber says it is both a logistic and emotional challenge.
“Our prayer,” he says, “is that God would just continually provide the resources that are going to be more than adequate, that we’d properly prepare for how many are needed at each location.”
Last year, the ministry was able to distribute 200,000 Bibles to the nation of 1.4 billion people. They hope to exceed that number this year.
Even as the July team leaves, Bibles for China is preparing for a November trip as well.
“There’s a time crunch from the standpoint that for our November distribution trip, our funds need to be secured, raised, and transmitted for the purchase of the Bibles in advance. So by early September, that has to have been accomplished,” Gerber says.
They are asking God for 20,000 Bibles for that trip.
Because of some internal changes in the country, the cost of Bibles has gone up slightly.
Right now, Bibles for China has a matching partner. Every Bible you buy is doubled and distributed. Each Bible is $5, and a case of 30 is $150. You can buy Bibles for believers in other countries here.
Bibles for China says in a recent newsletter: No gift is too small or too large. Help provide Bibles if you can. They are desperately needed. Each Bible purchased by Bibles for China for the November distribution will be matched Bible-for-Bible by our “in-country” partner.
Gerber asks for your prayers for safety over their travel and for discernment as they operate under the tight laws of the country.
So, what does it mean for a believer to receive his or her first Bible? Well, Gerber says it means their faith grows.
“One of the great things that we see take place is not just the distribution of God’s Word, but when we come from halfway around the world and present a copy of God’s Word to–in many cases–someone that has never seen a person from the United States. There is an encouragement to them that there are believers halfway around the world that are praying for them, that are providing God’s Word through the Bibles that come.”