You may have recently heard the news that Russia has recently implemented some tough restrictions on religious expression, in the name of “anti-terrorism.” If you haven’t, here’s an article from The Gospel Coalition, speaking to the issue of the new Russian restrictions. This follows closely on the heels of a new policy being implemented in China to gain more control of the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are sponsored by foreign groups and partnered with local groups within China. The Guardian (UK) recently published an article outlining some of the concerns with this new policy in China.
Our partnership with Bibles For China continues to provide open doors for us to reach into the lives of brothers and sisters, the majority of them never having had a Bible of their own, and provide them the opportunity to grow in the faith, to be discipled. This door may or may not remain open. Now, more than ever, our giving is important, while the opportunity remains. Now, more than ever, our going (Pastor Tim will be returning to China in October) is important, while the door is open, to touch the lives of so many believers, encouraging their pastors and leaders to remain faithful to the call of the gospel.
There is no doubt in my mind (Pastor James) that God has granted us a unique privilege and calling to participate in this ministry. As your church leadership prayed about the call to “go into all the world,” we sought a concrete way we could make a difference in the lives of believers on foreign soil. China was an obvious option for us. How, though? By God’s providence, Bibles For China came across my desk. Compelled to call, a connection was made across a table at Chik-Fil-A, off Peachtree St., in Atlanta. Wendell Rovenstine didn’t know what to think, at first, I don’t think, but a connection of heart and purpose has been established between us. God continues to affirm within us this calling and we dare not ignore it.
The giving of gifts is an established tradition in China. When you come as a guest, you bring a gift…a personal expression of honor and respect for those who are offering hospitality. There is something precious and powerful in the gift we bring as guests. The hospitality of the host churches is immeasurable. The ‘place of honor’ given to you as a guest can probably go to your head, if you let it. The crowds, pressing in upon you, to get a look at your face…many of them never having seen the face of an American before…to shake your hand and say hello…to take a selfie. It can be overwhelming. Clarity comes, however, when those boxes of Bibles come into view. Our presence, sure it is an important part of the “event,” if you will. The privilege, however, of joining hands with the Chinese pastors and leaders to place these precious gifts into the hands of our brothers and sisters…that is paramount. We are, after all, there, not to enjoy being treated like an honored guest, but to support the local leadership, equip them to more faithfully fulfill their calling to make disciples of these brothers and sisters. What a privilege!
The satisfaction of seeing precious people holding THEIR Bible for the first time is pretty amazing. BUT…that’s not why we participate. Swooping in and dropping a load of Bibles into a rural church IN CHINA…that’s very cool, really it is. BUT…that’s not why we give and go. We give and we go, because each of those Bibles goes into a home that needs God’s Word. The message of the gospel, the story of God’s love, is being taken home…AND God is using that open door to bring salvation into homes. Holding their own Bible, Chinese Christians are going home with a renewed confidence. Many of them have prayed for years to have a Bible of their own to study. That answered prayer, alone, is a testimony and affirmation to husbands and wives, children and grandchildren that the God they serve is faithful.
The printing, shipping, handling and delivery of the Bibles averages $5. Most of us spend that on some self-indulgence, every day. Our goal is to send $500, minimum, each month to Bibles For China, giving them the finances necessary to cover the costs. That’s 100 Bibles per month. One hundred answered prayers. One hundred homes, changed forever. You can help.