Is the Bible available in China? According to the Chinese government, upwards of 160 million Bibles have been published in the country, in over one hundred languages; this includes 80 million in Chinese, as well as a number of ethnic minority and braille publications. Various international news sources report that up to half of the Bibles published have been exported, leaving at least 80 million books inside the country. With a report like this, why should anyone be concerned? The authorities maintain that there are 44 million Christians inside their borders, which according to the above statistics, would provide each believer with at least one Bible. Knowing how such statistics are reported, we have taken a closer look and have a bit of a different take on this story. Some would say we have a completely different story altogether.
Recent laws put into effect provide a context for our story. Some of these laws, which are cushioned with words like “freedom” and “protection,” are detailed in the government’s most recent white paper released in early April. Under the guise of “protecting citizens’ freedom,” anything deemed as “foreign influence” is not allowed. In fact, the terms “foreign influence” and “infiltrator” are synonymous in the eyes of the Chinese government. Such influence includes international ministries on the ground (now forced to physically leave the country), but extends into the online world as well. In fact, making the Bible and biblical teachings available via the internet is categorized as foreign influence and labeled as espionage by the Chinese government. As of early April, Bibles are no longer available for online sale in China, and in fact, the government is now planning to publish their own socialist-friendly version of the Book.
The government’s report of 44 million Christians is grossly underestimated, and through persecution they are trying to remove evidence that would indicate there are many more believers inside Chinese borders. This larger, unreported number is supported by the number of people who have attempted to access biblical materials online in recent years. The number is not getting smaller, and access to Bibles is not getting easier. In fact, persecution is increasing and they need Bibles now more than ever before!
As a result of removing “foreign influence” from China, much information being provided is currently coming from foreign ministries reporting from their respective nations. China Aid, a ministry based in Texas, released a report indicating that in the past year, there have been over 220,000 incidents of persecution where Christians have been targeted by the Chinese government. A solid 3700 of these folks were arrested or detained. Chinese believers need our prayers. Their desperate hunger and need for the Word of God must not be underestimated, and their suffering must not be ignored.
Elizabeth Bell has a heart for the persecuted Church and loves to share stories of God’s faithfulness to His children. She has spent several years working in closed countries to further the advancement of the Gospel.