I have just returned from a visit to China, where I was teaching at the Wuhan Seminary in the Central Chinese province of Hubei. There to my amazement I read the following article in the English language newspaper China Daily, dated Friday 11 November 2012:
100 millionth Bible printed
China has become the biggest Bible publisher in the world after printing its 100 millionth copy, according to the country’s only authorised Bible printing company. At a ceremony held on Thursday in Nanjing, capital of East China’s Jiangsu province, the 100 millionth copy was unveiled.
Amity Printing Co Ltd Chairman Qiu Zhonghui said the company has printed about 60 million copies of the holy book in China, including editions in nine ethnic-group languages. The company has provided 40 million copies in more than 90 languages to about 70 countries and regions in the world.
Amity Printing is a joint venture between China’s Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies. The company has been publishing the Bible since 1987. Due to Chinese government policies, Amity Printing benefits from being exempt from various taxes when producing the Bible, Qui said. There are more than 70 sales outlets nationwide that well the book.
Guo Wei, spokeswoman for the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said at the ceremony: “The Chinese government respects and protects religious freedom and will continue to support printing and publishing Bibles in China”…….
The company printed a special edition for the 100 millionth Bible, with a cover made of bamboo that symbolizes the fountain of life cherished in Christian belief that will continue to flourish in China’.
With my own eyes I saw Bibles on sale in two church bookshops in Wuhan. At the two morning services in the large church at which I preached, Bibles were much in evidence. And yet as a quick survey on the web will reveal, there are still evangelical groups in the USA promoting Bible smuggling. It is as if they cannot come to terms with the freedom our Chinese brothers and sisters now enjoy.
True, there are still problems. Indeed, one major problem is the fact that in some of the rural areas of China around 60% of the Christian population is illiterate – most of whom are women. As a result the Bible Society here in Britain is backing an initiative by the Chinese Provincial Christian Councils to raise the literacy level of such Christians. The goal is to have at least 30,000 people in rural areas of China benefiting from the programme each year; each receiving a Bible at the end of the programme to read for themselves. Frankly these American evangelicals would do much better to support these public initiatives, rather than to engage in underhand activities.
In conclusion, what an amazing state of affairs. God is very much at work in China!