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EDITOR’S NOTE: For nearly a quarter of a century Asia Harvest has been providing Bibles to the estimated 50 to 150 million Christians who worship in illegal “house churches” in China. In the early years, this consisted of hosting many short-term teams who came to Hong Kong and carried Bibles in their bags and suitcases across the border into China. In the late 1990s they started printing Bibles secretly inside China. This greatly increased the quantity while sharply reducing the cost per Bible. Asia Harvest has now printed and delivered more than 3.8 million Bibles inside China.

The following interview with Asia Harvest director is Paul Hattaway is from the organization’s May and July 2011 newsletters.

Are Bibles still needed in China?

Paul Hattaway: Many Chinese church leaders are telling us the need is greater now than at any time since the 1980s. There is a growing emergency in China because of the lack of God’s Word among the rural house churches. If this need is not rebalanced soon, I fear it will have dire consequences for the revival that has been burning so brightly in China for the last 30 years.

If there is such an urgent need for Bibles in China now, how come so few Christians around the world are aware of it?

Paul: There are several main reasons for this. The first is that providing Bibles for China (and many other countries) seems “out of fashion” in many churches today. Someone recently told a friend that helping get Bibles to China’s Christians is “so 1990s!”

It seems to no longer be the “in thing.” If providing God’s Word to hungry believers who can’t access it is no longer a priority, may the Lord have mercy on us!

Another misconception is that many people believe China is now a rich country, so they no longer need our help. One American Christian recently told us, “We owe China billions of dollars, so they can take care of themselves.”

The first thing to say is that the Chinese government owning American debt does not mean the average person in China benefits in any way! About 90% of China’s house church Christians live in rural areas of the country, often thousands of miles away from the glistening skyscrapers of modern cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The revival in China at the moment is burning brightest in remote provinces like Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu and Qinghai. Thousands of people in these regions are coming to Christ daily, and they are among the poorest of the poor in China.

I wish I could take people who think China is now swimming in wealth to some of the areas we go. They would get the shock of their lives! The average annual US income at $47,000 per person. China’s is just $3,200 per year, but there is a massive division between what those in major cities and those in the countryside earn.

Many of the Christians we provide Bibles to are among the poorest people in China. They are burdened by grinding poverty and struggling to survive on just a few hundred dollars a year. For most, even if they were able to access a Bible, they would struggle to afford one.

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