Understanding China rules on the Bible

Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews Scott Thunder of the Bible League, a ministry that provides the Scriptures to people around the world. She discusses the availability of Bibles in China and their campaign for sending Bibles to China.

Georgene: Tell us first a little about the Bible League.

Scott: The Bible League was founded in 1938 by William Chapman. He became very, very sick and an elder in his church came to pray with him. He recovered and was so grateful that he dedicated his life to serving God by making sure everyone in his little town in Indiana had a Bible. From those humble beginnings, it became an international ministry right after World War II. General Douglas McArthur invited the Bible League to help provide Bibles for the reconstruction of Japan. Since then we’ve been in fifty countries around the world. We equip local churches with Bibles and train leaders in how to lead a Bible study and how to plant churches. Since we’ve began, we’ve placed 750 million copies of the Scripture in people’s hands around the world.

Georgene: There seems to be some confusion as to the accessibility of Scriptures in China. Maybe you could help clarify what is possible in that country.

Scott: There are a number of facets to be talked about. First, we need to understand that there are millions of people in China who are believers but they don’t live in an urban area. In these areas there are no bookstores. There are no places to buy a Bible even if you had money. They are so far removed from the availability of Bibles that the only way they are going to get one is if someone makes an intentional effort to put one in their hands.

The other thing to consider is that there are two varieties of churches in China. There is the government monitored and controlled church—the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. The pastors are told by the government what they can and can’t preach and only these churches receive any bibles printed in China.

The others are the house-churches, the underground churches where the real living, vibrant, and active Christianity is being experienced. Since the government won’t provide them Bibles, we try to reach them. Due to their location and because they are a peasant class they’re like being on a deserted island. Unless a case washes up on shore, they won’t have them. If they do get a Bible they will copy it word for word by hand and take it apart page by page and memorize it and pass it along to others.

Georgene: Tell us what you witnessed when you went to China.

Scott: I had to meet with pastors and leaders in very clandestine ways. You can’t be open about this, especially being a foreigner. If I’m seen associating with a house church it is bad for me, but even worse for the pastors and the house churches. We always have to speak in code. For example, for Bible we used the word bread; for church we used the word club.

I met with one of the leaders at a large mall. We wanted to close in prayer, but we couldn’t bow our heads or close our eyes. We sat with our eyes open and looking around, which was a unique experience for me.

The pastor gave me some insight into what it is like when churches don’t have Bibles. You can read about it for yourself if you go to the book of I Corinthians in the Bible. The struggles they have are similar. They didn’t know how to fellowship or administer the sacraments properly. People are immature in their faith. There where chasms and factions in the congregation. It is very difficult to grow in your faith and be disciples or even understand what is right and wrong.

If that weren’t hard enough, there are a lot of cults active in China that are coming into the house churches and stealing people away. The Bible is needed so they know what is pure and true.

Georgene: I had the opportunity to be in China to help distribute the Bible. When I handed a Bible to a very elderly Chinese woman, she wept. She’d been praying for years that she would have the Scriptures. To see the expression of gratitude on her face and know that her prayers had been answered, that God had not forgotten her, for me made the Bible League’s work all the more important.

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.