SHANDONG – I always felt that there were never enough Bibles in the churches in China. I grew up in a village church in Shandong province. More than 20 years ago, there were not more than 20 Catholic Bibles shared among the 500-600 parish members. In those days, church members would read the Bible aloud through the amplifiers for the rest of the congregation to listen to God’s Word.
A Bible, to me, was a rare and precious commodity. This leads me to share with you an incident in 2002…
Then I was still working at the Beijing Catholic Seminary. That winter, the heating pipes in the seminary started to leak and no one knew about it. Since it was vacation time, very few people would go into the underground chamber, which was a storeroom for Bibles. Over time, the chamber was flooded with water. A part-time worker discovered water flowing out of the chamber and raised the alarm but it was one day late. By the time we got into the chambers, we were greeted with a dismay sight: more than a hundred Bibles were soaked through! Despite the fact that wooden planks where placed under the Bibles, those right below were sopping wet. Gently and carefully, some of us tried to salvage the Bibles by “sunning” page by page while others were thinking aloud of how else to “save” these Bibles.
Just then I remembered the needs of my hometown church. After getting permission to inherit these Bibles, I used some money I had saved to send these 100+ Bibles (altogether about 7 boxes) back to Taian, Shandong. My younger brother received these boxes and helped me take them back to the church where my church mates helped to further “repair” these Bibles. Today, all thanks to God, my church is still using these Bibles (see photo of one such Bible above).
Up to now, I still think of this incident as “a blessing in disguise” for how else would my village church be able to receive so many precious Bibles so freely at any one time? As for which verse in the Bible that encouraged me the most? It is found in Luke 9:23(New Jerusalem Bible), “…if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.”
Written by Pamela Choo & Chris Neo
Translated by Chris Neo & Jacqueline Ho
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership