China (MNN) — Here are a few things you may already know
about China: it is illegal to distribute Bibles in China, the Chinese Church is
one of the fastest growing in the world, and Christians need Bibles in China.
But are you talking about China 1 or China 2? Dr. Gene Wood
of Word4Asia explains, "China is
divided into almost equal halves. It's
what we call, at Word4Asia, China 1, which is urban, largely east coast; and China 2, which is mainly inland and to the west, mainly rural and farm."
Now, here's what you may not know: Bibles are being printed
in China, and the Word of God is getting into peoples' hands by the scores.
Wood says the issue is two-fold: availability and accessibility, more so in
First, old Bibles are rare in China because they virtually
disappeared during the Cultural Revolution, when the Bible was banned. That scarcity was shared with the wider
Church, and people responded.
However, that has also led to a lot misconceptions about the
Bible in China today. Wood explains,
"The first [misconception] is: there are no Bibles in China. Secondly, equally erroneous:
there are enough Bibles in China."
Enter: Amity Printing Company, the
world's largest Bible printing press in Nanjing, China. That destroys Myth Number One. APC is a joint
venture between the Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies. The
company was established in 1988 with an ongoing mission and priority to serve
the Christian church in China.
APC's monthly capacity is 1,500,000 copies. The first 50
million Bibles took 20 years to print. The second 50 million only took five
years, and the 200th million milestone could be realized within ten years. In fact, last year APC celebrated the
milestone of printing the 100 millionth copy of the Bible, which has led to the
second misconception (that there are ENOUGH Bibles in China).
According to Wood,
people often take the census figure of 27 million Christians in China, add the
Amity Press 100 million Bibles and say there are 4 Bibles for every Christian
That's where the math goes wrong. Destroy Myth Number Two: 100 million Bibles
printed in China spans the entirety of APCs existence. What's more, that doesn't account for the
percentage of Bibles that are exported out of China, nor does it account for
those Bibles that are 30 years old and falling apart or lost in disasters.
Plus, adds Wood, "It is my belief, after my years here, that the Chinese Church
is the only one in the world that drastically under-reports their members."
With the Church growing like that, it's clear that God's
Word makes an impact; but Christians "have to HAVE a Bible first," notes Wood. He shares the story of a businessman who could afford his own copy of
the Bible but had no idea where to find one. The believer drove 300 miles to buy himself a copy, which brings us to availability.
Amity Press employs 600 staff who print, bind, and ship
Bibles and Hymnals. How do these resources get out of the warehouse? "The responsibility for distributing Bibles
from Amity Press is the responsibility of the CCC, the China Christian Council.
It's not the role of foreigners to do that," explains Wood. However, he says
some ministries are serving the national church by coming alongside them to
make sure Bibles get to preaching points, rural churches, and more, which keeps
What's more, it helps foreign Christians observe and
celebrate what's going on in the above-ground church, which helps dispel
misconceptions. The interaction is
priceless, says Wood. "The CEO or the
president of the China Christian Council said to me, ‘Gene, if you want to know
what's going on in China, come and see with your own eyes.'"
Wood adds, "If you go with them, I hope you don't just come and look. I
hope that you'll in some way support the need for Bibles and be involved. Do
something with your life that's going to make a difference. I discovered a long
time ago that feeling bad doesn't help anyone."