China (MNN) — Chinese government officials confiscated 300 Bibles from a Vision Beyond Borders (VBB) team from the U.S. on Sunday August 17 at China's Kunming International Airport. It seems a stark contrast to the image China has tried to project, says VBB representative Dyann Romeijn. "I think this portrays the heart of the government. They want an image that says that they have religious freedom, but in all practice, whenever you try to practice that religious freedom, it's not there."
Each member of the team of four, led by VBB founder and director Patrick Klein, was fined $400 U.S. for their overweight luggage. Officials told the team they were taking the Bibles as "illegal religious literature."
The team slept in the airport Sunday night, knowing that if they left customs, there would be no way of getting the Bibles returned. Airport officials tried to get the VBB team to leave for food and to visit an official's office in the city. The team chose to fast in order to remain in the airport.
On Monday, Klein and his team left the airport to find lodging after it was clear the Chinese authorities would not return the Bibles. They are praying for God's guidance and wisdom. Thus far, the VBB the team is doing well and has remained unified. As an answer to prayer, Klein's cell phone has remained charged so that he can stay in contact with the U.S. office.
All this for 300 pastors' study Bibles–Bibles that on the Chinese black market sell for as much as six month's to a year's salary, said Romeijn. "They're just very difficult to find, and they also are very, very expensive. So even though they say there are Bibles in China, they keep so few that an ordinary person cannot afford those Bibles. So many pastors in China are without Bibles." Only a limited number of Bibles are allowed into the country and then only sold at officially-sanctioned churches. They are prohibited in public book stores.
The VBB team is still unsure whether or not the Bibles will be returned. If they are, they will be distributed to VBB's church contacts in the country. Klein's priority in this "is that God is glorified in all of this and that people learn that there is still persecution out there. We need to stand in prayer for our brothers and sisters in China."
Pray that the situation will not be about the organization or anything other than bringing God's Word to people who want and need it. Pray that the Bibles are returned as a testimony to God's sovereignty and provision. Pray also for the safety of the VBB team and for a safe return from China.