China (MNN) — In a country of 1.3 billion people, half live in villages dotting China’s massive countryside.
Although China’s latest Five-Year Plan calls for rural development and urbanization, the lion’s share of modernity (and its privileges) still seems to flow from the cities outward. The more rural the village, the more likely it has been overlooked.
Yet the latest trend reveals resilience from the rural areas. Economic and social development of these regions has been remarkable in spite of inattention. It boils down to the people. They’re determined, hardy, and persistent. Their voices, while quiet, are too insistent to be ignored. That growing chorus is changing things, too.
Bibles For China is responding to new requests from church leaders with every visit. President Wendell Rovenstine says, “We are developing a network relationship with the leaders within provinces and counties in China. The more that we develop relationship with them, the more we realize their great need for Bibles.” The requests are for help in providing the national Church with Bibles. Funds raised outside of China flow in through a ministry partner on the ground. That partner purchases legally-printed Bibles from Amity Printing Press and makes sure they get shipped to drop sites.
For Chinese Christians, it’s not a question of whether Bibles can be found in China (availability), explains Rovenstine; it’s a question of accessibility. “You can’t go to a bookstore–if they had the funds to do it [or] know where the bookstore was. There’s no place to get one unless you are somewhere that you can go to a church and you can buy a Bible there.” At the invitation of the China Christian Council, teams from BFC, Bible Societies and other groups come in from around the world to help the national Church and celebrate what’s going on. “It’s a tremendous confidence and trust they have in us and we have in them that deepens our opportunity to really be effective for the Chinese Christians through His Word.”
In an average visit to a rural church, it’s not unusual to see 600 people walk in from the countryside so they can get a Bible. Rovenstine goes on to explain that the Christian community is deliberate in assigning pastors who are qualified to do the job. “They can, in turn, go and develop small churches and become discipled by the leadership that’s been seminary-trained.” That’s a tall order when Bible accessibility is an obstacle. Cooperation and networking is the only way to get the tools into the hands of these pastors. “They are really intentionally looking for opportunities to spend time to disciple, to mentor, to encourage, and assist these individuals to be effective leaders in the church.”
The demand for tools and resources is fast outpacing the supply, reflects Rovenstine. “The Christians in China are almost approaching the numbers of all the whole United States. There’s a real resurgence of Christianity and people really open to God’s Word, and the Spirit’s really moving in China.” It’s hard to imagine in what other capacity $5 covers so much spiritual groundwork in China–because it starts with a Bible.
It seems like the spiritual strategy runs parallel to the economic one now in China. It’s flowing from the rural villages into the city centers. “My prayer is that everybody realizes that God’s Word connects us to China; it connects us back from China to Christians here,” concludes Rovenstine. Click here to help a Chinese Christian start the $5 journey.