JIANGSU, China – The Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, is stencilled on the wall. Books of varying genres ranging from picture books, Bible stories, fiction and biographies lined the white bookcases. The floor is carpeted with colourful rubber mats put together like a huge jigsaw. At the left hand corner is a pantry with a water jug and rows of metal cups with name stickers on them. And a gentle glow fills room as the morning sun ray shines through the translucent window curtains.
This is a description of a church Children’s Reading Room which Wang Mingyu, 12, has been coming to for the past two Saturdays. The reading room is set up in the church especially for children living in the vicinity of the Sihe （四合） town. “I enjoy reading the books here,” shared Mingyu who also enjoys playing table tennis with his friends in his free time.
“I brought him here two weeks ago to attend the church Sunday School and found out about this reading room. His mum contracted blood cancer recently and he has been feeling sad. So I hope that he will find some encouragement and comfort here,” explained Lou Baolan, 68, Mingyu’s grandma, who became a Christian in 2008.
According to China Sixth National Census in 2010, there are about 215 million children aged 14 and below. It is hoped that with the Reading Rooms, the minds of the young can be engaged with books of good and wholesome content. To date, 26 Reading Rooms have been set up in churches located in the rural parts of China where reading materials are harder to come by.
This Reading Room which was set up in the church in Sihe some months ago carries about 400 titles. It has a regular patronage of approximately 60 children every week. Opened on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings, the room is managed by a team of six volunteers from the church.
“I bring my grandniece, Yuxin, here every week. She enjoys reading and wouldn’t want to leave even when it’s time for the place to close,” shared Wang Zuwu, 75, a member of the Sihe church. Yuxin’s parents are non-believers who work in the city while she is taken care of by her grandparents.
For towns like Sihe, which is located outside the city center, printed reading material can be a scarce commodity. Hence, UBS sees the importance of providing books for children especially those living in the town and rural areas so that they can have free access to general knowledge and develop a reading habit from young. Most importantly, we pray that the children will also discover the message of the gospel through the pictorial Bibles in the Reading Room.
There continue to be huge needs for more Children’s Reading Rooms to be set up in China especially in areas where there are large numbers of left-behind children. If you want to give to the Children’s Reading Room, please contact us at [email protected] Thank you!
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edit: Pamela Choo
2016 © United Bible Societies China Partnership