Friday, November 21, 2008

Is Bible smuggling into China unnecessary?

On November 12, the Bible Society of New South Wales sent out a press release announcing that smuggling Bibles into China places Chinese Christians at risk and is unnecessary. Daniel Willis, the CEO of the Bible Society NSW claimed that with the new Amity Press operational in Nanjing, "smuggling is a waste of resources."

Supporters of Amity Press have been claiming this for years, of course. Similar misstatements were often made concerning the Soviet Union during its heyday as well. And just as those claims were later proven to be overly optimistic, I have little doubt that history will also reveal the naiveté of today's apologists for China's communist regime.

Our good friends and partners, ChinaAid Association, released a gracious response to the Bible Society today.

MEDIA ADVISORY, Nov. 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- ChinaAid affirms the commitment of the Bible Society NSW to "break down the barriers of distance and isolation and make Bibles available to our Chinese brothers and sisters," through supporting the Amity Press's new drive to provide Bibles to believers in remote areas, Bible Society NSW CEO, Daniel Willis has under-stated the need to provide Bibles to believers in the People's Republic of China through other distribution venues.

1987, the Amity Press has printed and distributed more than 40 million copies of the Bible in simplified script within China. Amity Press is the only press that is legally permitted and supervised by the Chinese government to print Bibles. However, with estimates of the Protestant believers (Three Self Patriotic Movement church and house church) in China now totalling from 39 million to 130 million(1) and considering that most Bibles wear out after five years due to overuse and shared distribution, the Amity Press is only able to supply approximately half of the Bibles needed to meet the present and pressing need of China's Christian believers.

Willis also fails to make mention of two crucial issues that affect access to the Bible in China. The rate of printing and distribution in 2007 was 6.75 million complete Bibles and 690,000 copies of the New Testament.(2) At this rate, it will be another five years at least until the number of Bibles printed in China matches the approximate number of believers in China today. This also does not take into account the continued growth of the church in China and the need to distribute the Bible to the general populace -- a need which totally eclipses the amount of the Scriptures made available by the Amity Press.

Second, distribution of Amity Press Bibles is limited to government-approved Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) bookstores and distribution points. Thus, believers who want to purchase a Bible can only do so by finding a TSPM church. Christians who live in rural areas have little to no access to a TSPM church or TSPM bookstore. In addition, many of these Christians are living at a poverty-level that makes the expense of the purchase of a Bible impossible.

Mr. Willis says in his press release that, "smuggling Bibles into China places Chinese Christians at risk and ... smuggling is a waste of resources." However, many Chinese Christians feel the desperation for a Bible outweighs the risk. Zhou Heng was in prison from August 3, 2007 until February 19, 2008 for giving away Bibles. Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan was arrested on March 19, 2008 for publishing and distributing Bibles and Christian literature. He is currently in prison. These two men testify to the great need for Bibles with their actions and their lives.

ChinaAid President Bob Fu notes, "Mr. Willis is to be commended for his commitment to providing Bibles in China. However, he has overstated the Amity Press' ability to supply enough Bibles to meet China's pressing need. His conclusion that Bibles do not need to be carried into China through other means furthers the misinformation propaganda goals of the TSPM and Religious Affairs Bureau."

So what do you think? Is Bible smuggling into China unnecessary? Let us know you opinion through our poll and by leaving a comment.

<a href="">Is Bible smuggling into China unnecessary? </a> <a href="">BuzzDash polls</a>


Anonymous said...

Ooops... I misread the question.... I thought it read "Is smuggling Bibles into China necessary?" and thus answered Yes. I should have have answered, to the proper quesiton, with a "No".

Glenn Penner said...

Maybe someone who believes that it is unnecessaay will vote "No". :-)

Donna said...

Glenn: This article has given me good information. Canadian Bible Society gives out information (in Oct to me personally), the amount of Bibles that were printed by Amity Press in China for the Olympics, but I never knew the amount annually printed or if there was still a lack or not of Bibles. I don't know if smuggling Bibles in to a country (China) places Christians at a greater risk than not having a bible or part of a bible at all. I love my bible - I can't live without it - everyday. So I feel and have compassion for those who have no scripture at all - smuggling bibles in might give an encouragement to the Christians that the world cares about them enough to work at a great risk to provide them with God's word and breath and life.

Barrie said...

The Apostles said it best, "We ought to obey God, rather than men." Acts 5:29

Joel M said...


I agree with your understatement that ChinaAid's response was gracious (perhaps too much so). My suggestion is that Christians in China (not Australia) should be letting us know when we are wasting resources smuggling Bibles into China. When Bibles are starting to pile up unused in China, maybe I'll be convinced.

As for placing Chinese Chirstians at risk, that is a risk they seem happy to accept for the sake of the kingdom.


Jason said...

Getting Bibles into China is very important , our brothers and sisters there want them , It is important for them to hear the unedited version of the word . I am very concerned with believers that think Bible smuggling is a waste of resources . DO they not realize this is God speaking to us ? This is extremely important in getting the the word out to those that want it . I am surprised that people on this site have even voted yes it is a waste of time .

Anonymous said...

You have all spoken rightly. Compromising in the face of persecution should not be the way. The persecution will still be there even without the smuggling.

Anonymous said...

Just the fact that Amity printing press Bibles are the only ones permitted by the GOVERNMENT should send a red flag. My guess is they are not printing and distributing any KJV, but most likely watered down ones--paraphrases etc. Satan continues to prevent, distort, and hinder God's Word (his first words spoken to mankind from the get go in Gen.3:1 "Hath God said..?) but it can never be stamped out. Let us not be deceived. There is, indeed, a NECESSITY for God's Word to be distruted "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" Romans 10:17

Glenn Penner said...

It is worth remembering, Anonymous, that the KJV is an English translation of the Bible. So, quite simply, no one prints KJV's in Chinese or any other language except for English. Translations are made from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, not from an English translation, just as the KJV was originally translated. The Chinese translation Amity prints in actually a pretty good translation. The issue is not the translation; it is the fact of how the distribution is done.

Anonymous said...

If the Chinese government let us do it legally, we wouldn't have to "smuggle" in Bibles! Obviously, the Bible Society cannot count, there is a huge need of Bibles and Christian literature in China. With no formal pastoral training to a lot of the church leaders in China, these Bibles and teaching materials are vital to believers, something I would imagine Amity Press cannot meet the demands of.

Denny said...

After taking tons of Bibles and Gospel literature into China over the last four years I've seen a great need for more. The contacts (believers) we have in China risk much to pick up and deliver our cargo. Believers on the ground in China know the need. It is great in many areas. China is a big Country and Bibles are very hard to find in most places.

Chris Watson said...

It's obnoxious to compare China to the Soviet Union. The Chinese government is making a good faith attempt to allow freedom of religion. We should remember Paul's advice about government, and not make get involved in shabby political battles.

The point Amity Press are making, is that if you really want to bring bibles to China - and they are complete, uncensored Protestant bibles - give them a donation. For the cost of one smuggled bible they can provide hundreds of them.

And without putting Christians in needless danger or getting involved in the worldliness of a political battle.

They're right.

Glenn Penner said...

Chris, let me equally blunt. You are wrong on almost every point that you make. But given the tone of your comment, it would probably be a waste of both of our times to enter into a debate.