Worshippers show delight having received new Bibles at a church near Nanjing, China. Photo credit: Clare Kendall

Bible mission enters crucial phase in China

Arleen Luo, Bible Society’s China Mission Specialist, shares both the challenges and opportunities of spreading the word of God in China and explains why your continued support is so vital today

Prior to taking up my new job as China Mission Specialist, I lived for thirty years in China, and in my final talk at a Beijing church before leaving, I described how Bible Society had been involved in China since 1811 and that it was their first-ever overseas mission. 

I explained that Amity Printing Company was jointly established by Bible Society and the Chinese authorities and is the only company printing Bibles for distribution in mainland China. I explained how Bible Society supporters kindly provided the Bibles they were now holding in their hands.

Tears of gratitude 

After the service, an elderly man approached me with tears in his eyes. He said he became a Christian more than 30 years ago and it was the first time he had heard the story of how the Bible came to him.

This 22-year-old student at Henan Bible School in China is one of many students you’ve helped supply
with theological resources. Photo credit: Dag Smemo

‘It has never been easy to be a Christian here in China,’ he said. ‘I have been through the Cultural Revolution. I’ve been through pressure in recent years. Your story really encourages me. Now I feel I am not alone, not forgotten. I now know there are brothers and sisters across the other side of the world who have been supporting us for so long.’

He asked for the address of the printing company and I told him that Amity, China’s sole official Bible printer, was in Nanjing.

‘I just want to simply go there and do whatever I can to serve them, to show my appreciation,’ the man said. ‘I don’t know much. I am old and unskilled. But at least I can clean their tables or make them tea to show them how thankful I am for my Bible.’

Finding hope in God’s word during the coronavirus outbreak

When church meetings in China were suspended due to the coronavirus, believers turned more and more to reading the Scriptures.

‘We were often too busy to spend time with God prior to this (coronavirus) crisis. Now we are taking this time to do more self-reflection and praying to God,’ was just one of many uplifting testimonies I heard from my home country during the dark times brought by the Covid-19 virus.

Church leaders, such as Liu Xiaofan (left), are in short supply in China. Photo Credit: Clare Kendall

‘While I was reading the book of Judges, I broke down in tears as I felt a strong conviction to repent of my sins,’ was another.

‘During this time of isolation, I read the Bible without stopping for 10 days. I could not stop reading about God’s forgiveness and love for me,’ read a third testimony.

All three of these people live in rural China, and the reason they have a Bible is because it was kindly provided by people like you. Your continuing generosity means that in China, Bibles remain accessible, affordable, or often completely free. 

In 2019, the support of people like you resulted in millions of Bibles being printed in mainland China. A donation of about £100, for example, can provide enough Bibles in one year for a whole congregation of a small church in rural China.

Keys to understanding

This moment in time is more crucial than any to ensure that Bibles not only continue to be printed in China, but also that people there receive resources to help them understand their Bibles more, and also that more leaders gain good theological training. 

Only God knows what the future holds, but with an estimated one million new converts to Christianity every year, as well as big growth in other religions, the authorities have been increasingly regulating and restricting religious activities over the last few years.

Training pastors

The gracious support of people like you is enabling Christians in China to rise to many challenges. For example, China faces an acute shortage of trained pastors with one trained leader for every 6,700 Christians on average. The scarcity of leadership threatens to impact the growth of the Church. But generous gifts from supporters are equipping Chinese pastors and volunteers who spread God’s word with quality Bible teaching tools, resources and training. 

Recently, gifts from supporters have helped preachers who have been unable to travel and earn a living during the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine.

I personally want to thank all of you for your continued support of the Bible mission in China, through both your kind giving and your prayers.

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