China (MNN) — MNN’s Ruth Kramer is in northern China this week serving the Church in Bible distribution. She shares the following report:
Bibles For China sent out four teams this week throughout rural parts of China to serve the China Christian Council in getting Bibles into the hands of China 2 (inland China, mainly agricultural and poor).
Team leader Barry Werner also works with Bibles For China. He says, “There’s an unlimited supply of Bibles in China. We have unlimited favor, it seems, from the Lord in order to distribute these Bibles. The issue really is the ability to purchase the Bibles and the ability to verify their delivery.”
What does that look like? Our team headed to the north of the country, now dotted with the remnants of harvest, to find out. Most of the villages we stopped in have experienced steady growth in their churches, regular preaching from God’s Word, multiple outreaches and discipleship programs, but few personal copies of Scripture.
On our first day, the average village we stopped in was rural enough that few people made trips into the city. Few families made over $2 per day, and all the church leaders were overworked. A case in point: the first village we visited has a normal body of 200. However, it is part of a larger conglomerate of 54 villages that are overseen by one pastor. The population of these villages is estimated at 28,000 people, of which 700 are Christians. In the smaller preaching point churches, they are overseen by a group of elders and volunteers.
While there were many who were from the local village, some of the people who arrived at our first stop had walked or cycled 15 miles to get their own copy of the Bible, provided by Bibles For China. In anticipation of our visit, they began singing at 8AM. When we arrived at 9AM, they were still going strong. 200 Bibles went out at that service.
The second church we visited was built four years ago. It was the central gathering point for 200 people from 16 villages, including many non-Christians. They, too, welcomed us with celebration and had warmed up for an hour. 400 Bibles later, we moved on to the largest distribution of the day.
At the third church, people arrived at 9AM in eager anticipation of getting a Bible. The boxes were stacked on the stage, in plain view. A service began, and things proceeded smoothly. Two sermons and hours of music later, our team arrived at 2PM.
We were greeted enthusiastically, and the distribution began. The aisles were packed with people who wept as they received their Bibles. As overwhelming as that was, I was nearly undone when an elderly woman stopped me in the aisle, knelt at my feet, and cried tears of joy on them, wiping my shoes clean with a handkerchief.
My heart was overwhelmed by the simplicity of the act and the joy these believers had, some of whom had brought handwritten copies of the Scriptures in spiral-bound notebooks. As I made my way to the stack of Bibles at the front of the auditorium, I was stopped by many others with the phrase "Jesu ai ni" (Jesus loves me!), hugged, hands clasped, and though we were not speaking the same language, it was clear there was a bond shared in the name of Christ.
These humble people were on their knees thanking God for His provision of this team of Americans who came halfway across the world to provide the Word. They prayed for our families, our churches, those who donated money to provide the Bibles, and more. 700 Bibles later, we joined in the worship with these brothers and sisters. Another 300 Bibles were to be picked up by leaders from other nearby preaching points for distribution in the near future.
So here comes the other part of this story. As touching as it is, you may be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with me?"
Werner says your responsibility is to answer your part in praying, giving or going. It’s clear that many believers in the West have been praying that doors would open to get the Bibles into China. Resourcing is the next step. “Each Bible is $5 USD. At the current time, and it looks like through 2014 we’ll be able to have a Bible-for-Bible match with our in-country partner. So, each $5 actually puts two Bibles in the hands of rural Chinese believers.”
Lastly, it’s possible to really understand "Jesu ai ni" in the going, Werner notes. “We purchase [Bibles] through the CCC (Chinese Christian Council), get them out the door and get them into the hands of the rural farmers.”
Understanding how precious the Bible is gets renewed when you can look a believer in the eyes as you hand someone his or her own copy of God’s Word. At our last stop, after the distribution, we shared the Lord’s Prayer together. Different tongues, different nations, united in His name.