A quick Google search for the phrase “Bible Smuggling” will bring up numerous links to articles written on the topic of Bible smuggling in China. Of the links found on the first page, about half seem to be for smuggling Bibles into China, while about half seem to be against it.
Click here to read an interesting article written back in 2009 by a Chinese news source that makes a startling claim. It claims that the largest Bible publisher in the world is found in China!
This is not merely a claim made by a Chinese news outlet. Click here to read a similar story posted by an American news source in 2012. Also notice the update/disclaimer at the top of this article dated May 23, 2013, which indicates that because about two-thirds of the bibles published in China are exported, there are still many house churches that don’t have access to them.
While the fact that two-thirds of the bibles are exported may be true, I would contest the claim that many house churches don’t have access to them.
A quick search online on any computer or mobile device in China for 圣经 (Bibles) will pull up multiple websites that provide free access to read the Chinese Bible online. There are even Bible apps available for download on most smart phones in China. While the Chinese government is notorious for blocking certain content on the internet that it dislikes such as Facebook, Google, and CNN; it actually allows the Chinese people access to these Bible websites and apps.
What’s more, a quick search for 购买圣经 (purchase Bibles) on any search engine in China will also pull up multiple websites where Chinese Bibles can be purchased and delivered directly to the buyer’s front door!
The Bibles that my wife and I used in China were bought at our church in China, which had stacks upon stacks for sale to anyone that wanted to buy. They even gave them away to people who made professions of faith at evangelistic crusades. Each of these Bibles indicated inside the front cover that they were printed in Nanjing, China.
It is easy to see that Bibles, on the whole, are readily available in China. While it may be possible that there are Chinese in certain parts of the country that cannot afford a Bible, most could simply download a free app that allows them to read directly on their smartphone.
So, should we invest in smuggling/distributing Bibles into China? No, not unless we are specifically targeting groups that are otherwise unable to access the Bible. With over half of China’s population categorized as “internet users” (Click here for link), most would have access to the Bible of some sort, even if electronically. While smuggling/distributing may have been a worthier investment in previous decades, I think the need of the hour for Christianity in China today is church-planting.
But that is for my next post…