“We want to help the Bible ministry in China in a holistic way,” Ezekiel Tan, General Secretary of Bible Society of Singapore (BSS), kept emphasizing.
Ezekiel who had just returned from a trip to China’s Jiangsu Province in May 2012, together with a Singapore delegation of church leaders from the Chinese Work Committee under the National Council of Churches in Singapore (NCCS), was eager to talk about his experiences and possible partnership between BSS and the Church in China.
The delegation of church leaders from four Christian denominations: Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian, invited representatives from BSS and the United Bible Societies China Partnership (UBSCP), to join them on a trip to China to explore strategic partnership with the Church in China. Led by Bishop of Singapore, the Rt Rev. Dr. John Chew, who is also honorary Vice-President of UBS, the delegation visited churches in Jiangsu Province and the Jiangsu Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CC/TSPM).
Bible Needs in China are Immense
The delegation was then divided into two groups: one team was to visit the churches in the Subei (northern) region; the other was assigned to visit the Sunan (southern) churches. Ezekiel joined the group that visited the Subei region where almost 80% of Jiangsu’s Christians reside. The Subei people were comparatively poorer and less economically developed than their southern counterparts.
“The scriptural needs in Jiangsu alone are immense. The Jiangsu churches are poor yet their evangelistic effort is admirable – the churches are constantly reaching out, planting new churches, meeting points and Bible training schools. The Church is indeed growing at an exponential rate,” Ezekiel added. “As the Chinese Work Committee aims to form long-term strategic partnerships with Jiangsu CC/TSPM in the area of scripture engagement, it has invited BSS to join in this collaboration. As a result, BSS hopes to offer our selection of scripture materials which cater to specific needs and different age groups. These include our publication of Bible Study notes, devotional materials, particularly those reaching out to the Chinese young adults.”
A Holistic Involvement in China’s Bible Ministry
“But BSS is not just looking at the needs of Jiangsu province alone, the Bible Society hopes to offer the whole of China a partnership that is holistic and meaningful,” said Ezekiel. “Firstly, BSS hopes to inform Christians in Singapore to pray meaningfully and intelligently for the Church in China; Secondly, BSS hopes to organize more Bible distribution trips so as to involve local Christians physically in China ministry.”
The third area which BSS has already began work in is to raise awareness on an institutional or church level so as to interest Singapore churches to develop a longer-term commitment for China’s Bible needs. It intends to roll out a series of talks and workshops beginning with the “Bible Miracle in China” seminar. Some local churches have already pledged their support to “adopt a province in China”, a project initiated by Bishop Chew, spearheaded by BSS and supported by UBSCP.
Besides fund-raising projects for China ministry, BSS also hopes to offer more of its scripture publications to China. For example, BSS has already offered the Chinese government publisher the publishing rights to their “Bible on Stamp” set of books. Conversely, Ezekiel has also expressed keen interest in bringing some of China’s own publications and making it available to the Chinese-speaking churches in Singapore.
Final Words of Encouragement
“The Spirit of God is working powerfully and mightily in China,” Ezekiel remarked as he shared, with enthusiasm, how he felt the strong presence of God with the Chinese Christians when he visited them. “We can really learn from the Chinese Christians — their commitment, sacrifices and passion for God. What I saw on this trip made me think of John 1:14 (ESV) ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth’.”
“The Bible miracle of China is apparent: a country that was once burning Bibles to one that is printing its 100 millionth Bible — it testifies God’s Grace and anointing on a country some of ours Chinese Singaporeans still regard as our ancestor’s homeland!”
The scriptural needs in Mainland China are immense. If you would like to find out more about China’s Bible needs or make a financial contribution towards this cause, please contact the Bible Society in your country and designate your gift to ‘UBS China Partnership — Bibles for China’s Millions’.
By Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership