Corey’s Corner: China and the spirit of giving
When I was in elementary school, I didn’t know a lot about China. “Don’t dig that hole too deep in the yard,” parents would admonish my friends and me, “you might hit China.” I guess I did know a few things. China was on the other side of the world, and Americanized Chinese food tasted wonderful.
I also knew China was “closed.” I recall reading the nail-biting Christian comic books of Brother Andrew and others smuggling Bibles behind the “Bamboo Curtain,” because Bibles were banned by the communist government. Those found talking about Jesus or covertly sneaking in Christian literature risked what I understood then as tortuous imprisonment for years on end.
But so much has changed since I was in elementary school.
Late last month, about 60 of us were gathered in the Majesty Plaza ballroom, a chandeliered hall in a downtown Shanghai hotel. As Christian leaders from China and the United States, we built friendships and shared meals and talked about the Gospel at work transforming lives.
If someone told me, as an eleven-year old boy, that one day I’d be in Shanghai with Chinese Christian leaders talking openly about the Bible and the love of Christ, I would have thought they were from the moon, or at least the other side of the world.
One evening I sat beside Pastor Li, the leader of a church of thousands in Nanjing. Pastor Li shared with me the story of his family hiding their one Bible during the 1960s, discretely tucking it away in any of seven different places. During his childhood, the Bible was literally a hidden treasure. He recalled the day soldiers stormed into his house and physically beat his father — blind from the age of one — demanding he turn over their family Bible so it could be destroyed. Pastor Li’s father took the blows but did not relinquish the book.
Today, that family Bible is on display at a Beijing exhibit symbolizing the bravery of families who protected God’s word through the years of censorship.
In the few decades since I was reading the Brother Andrew comic books and Pastor Li was reading banned copies of Scripture, the climate in China has changed. What was once the closed, bamboo-curtained nation is now the leader in Bible production, not just for China, but for the world. I toured a publishing company in China that prints twenty million Bibles per year and last year had a big party when it printed its one hundred millionth Bible. Most of these Bibles are exported.
This same spirit has also been on your hearts as Biola students, partnering with the Seed Company to launch The India Project. This project aims to translate twenty-four key Bible stories into several unreached native languages of the Indian people. I just wanted to thank you this Christmas for taking up the challenge and joining with China and others globally who are bringing the gospel to the hungry, in deed and word.