China (MNN) — A booming Bible
industry is turning an atheistic nation into the world's largest supplier of
China is on track to become the
world's largest producer of Bibles, but according to Open Doors' Carl Moeller,
"Much is made of the fact that the Chinese government, through its Amity
Press, has recently printed its 50 millionth Bible. That is a wonderful
statistic, except when you realize that there may be up to 100-million
believers in China, and you also realize that 10-percent of the Amity Press Bible
printing goes for export."
Amity is China's only state-sanctioned Bible printer and has about 500
employees. It has produced 50 million copies in 75 languages, sent to over 60
On top of that, the government is set to release a special Olympic edition of the
Bible, New Testament and booklets with the four Gospels during the Games next
While it may seem, on the
surface, that China has thrown doors open wide, the picture isn't quite what it
seems. The government is still
maintaining very tight control on what's going on in the Christian community.
Believers are benefiting most
from a pragmatic business approach to the commerce of the Bible. Anyone can buy a Bible now through the
state-run church, but smuggling Bibles
in or illegally printing and distributing them can bring the full weight of the
government's disapproval down on the offender.
Open Doors has been tracking the
case against Shi Weihan who was re-arrested in March for publishing Bibles and
Christian literature. Under his Holy
Spirit Trading Company, Shi ran a Christian bookstore, a printing press and
China Aid Association,
International Christian Concern and Release International are advocates on his behalf. Moeller says, "We hope that the Chinese authorities will
recognize that Christians like Shi are an asset to their country and not a
threat. Hopefully the authorities will respond to the many petitions of
Christians in the United States and around the world who would like to see Shi
released before the start of the Olympics."
Prayer also makes a big difference
in getting the Gospel out. Moeller notes
that there's still a lot of work to do. "If at best we're talking about
maybe 45-million Bibles for 100-million believers, we're talking about 55-plus
million believers in China who still have yet to have their first Bible. That's if every Bible that Amity Press has
ever printed is still in circulation."