Colorful ethnic clothing contrasted sharply with the black covered Bible they had just received. The young Bible students’ smiles told the story, despite the language barrier between them and the visitors who had delivered the most precious of gifts. These young ladies were just two of hundreds who received newly printed copies of Scriptures that were distributed during Seed Sowers’ Seminars taught by Bibles For the World during the first two weeks of May in this southwestern region of China.
Buoyed by reports of new openness toward Christianity in specific regions of the Communist nation and the sobering fact that more than 180 of the world’s totally unreached people groups are found within China, BFTW president John Pudaite was determined to include China as one of the 120 nations where the ministry has provided Scriptures to people — especially those where there is little or no access to God’s Word.
This initial foray into ministry within China was over a year in the making. It involved finding the right ministry partners who could coordinate outreach in the desired areas within south-western Chinese provinces where research has shown the greatest numbers of unreached people groups are located. With that basis for reaching out to people in this region, a plan was developed to conduct a series of Seed Sowers’ Seminars in several locations to challenge existing believers to “be the hands and feet” of Jesus in helping to reach areas where no believers exist.
Seed Sowers’ Seminars have been conducted by Bibles For The World with great success in India and Nepal, with hundreds of attendees composed of pastors and lay leaders from surrounding regions. This same model applied in China would focus on reaching not only pastors and lay leaders of existing churches, but also students at Bible colleges training for ministry. Through this combination of ministers and students aspiring to become ministers, BFTW aimed to provide, not only encouragement and specific training in using the Gospel of John for outreach, but also the Scriptures, themselves. Bibles are scarce in southwestern China — and Scripture portions, such as the Gospel of John booklets, are virtually unheard of.
While the strategy was taking shape, ministry partners were working diligently to line up venues and audiences for the training events. This way, when the team members from Bibles For The World landed in China, they could hit the ground running and, with God’s grace and blessing, have the maximum impact possible during a single, brief week of ministry outreach.
That is precisely what happened within just five days in the selected region (NOTE: For reasons of confidentiality and security names and locations where these outreaches took place have been changed).
“Pastor Lee” was a significant player in this outreach strategy. He not only served as host of our small team, but he coordinated ministry outreaches among a group of churches and a Bible school in the area that had been founded by his father. A respected leader and passionate speaker and preacher, Lee is also well known to the government authorities responsible for religious affairs in the region. In fact, he welcomed several government officials to travel with our group to different locations for Seed Sower Seminars and Bible distribution.
Bible schools in three cities, hundreds of miles apart, were the focal points of both training seminars and Scripture distribution. The participants consisted of both the schools’ resident students and dozens of pastors and lay leaders — many of whom traveled dozens, or even hundreds, of kilometers to attend.
Significantly, many attendees came from regions where ethnic minorities happen to be close neighbors to precisely the unreached people groups BFTW desires to reach. They listened intently to the challenges John Pudaite and the other Seminar leaders provided, encouraging them to carry God’s “love letter” (our favorite description of the Gospel of John) to those villages where the name of Jesus Christ is not already known.
“This single book of the Bible transformed my entire tribe in India,” John told the crowds, “and it was all my grandfather had for many years. Until my father translated the entire Bible into the language of our people, this single book transformed the lives of thousands of Hmar people turning them from headhunters into heart-hunters for Jesus Christ!”
This message resonated with many of those in attendance, some of whom were third and fourth generation believers. But many of the students were first generation Christians — and the only believers from their villages. These were particularly excited to learn how they could use the Gospel of John to reach their friends, relatives and community members.
Altogether 538 men and women attended the Seminars — and received newly printed copies of the Scriptures: Bibles, reference books and as many copies of the Gospel of John as they could carry for evangelistic outreach.
Gatherings like the one below provided Bibles and Gospels of John to believers who committed to sharing them with unreached peoples in neighboring villages and towns.
Outreaches continued among a half dozen churches in remote areas where congregations gathered to receive the precious gifts of God’s Word. In three days, the BFTW team traveled hundreds of miles to regions where vibrant churches filled with young and old alike were eager to welcome their visitors from the USA who had brought more than enough Bibles for every person in their congregations — and enough Gospels of John to share with those in their own community and surrounding villages, as well.
Plans are to continue Scripture distribution efforts in various locations in China as God opens doors.