A new way of living

As we all know by now, the city of Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei became the epicentre of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak back in January.

Since then, life in China has changed dramatically. Like most of the world, all public gatherings have been cancelled indefinitely, most of the population have been told to ‘socially-distance’, and even the most basic travel is regulated by the authorities. All of these measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the some 1.4 billion people living there.

But what has this meant for Christians living in China?

Churches have been forced to close of course, but in a country where much of the population live in rural areas with very little access to technology, the opportunity that many of us have to join ‘online church’ every Sunday morning is not one that our brothers and sisters in China share.

On top of that, for the many church leaders who relied on the financial giving of their congregation who they no longer see every week, it has become a worrying time for them.

Mu Weixu, a Dai ethnic preacher who lives in the mountainous areas of Yunnan province, some 2000 km away from Wuhan, admitted to UBS China Partnership that he has been tempted to get a part-time job so he can provide for his family.

Hope in the face of uncertainty

But there is a silver lining to every cloud as they say, and for Mu and his family, the financial support of the China Partnership and Bible Societies around the world has meant that he has been able to continue preaching to his community during this time.

“I am thankful for UBS’ support, for now I can visit more brothers and sisters, and travel far to preach God’s Word. What’s more, the needs of our baby can be taken care of now. This has strengthened my faith to know that God will always provide for me as I serve Him faithfully!” Brother Mu wanted to share his gratitude with us.

Furthermore, with churches closed and Christian meetings suspended, many Christians are spending more time at home reading the Bible.

Take for example, the village of Longchi in Sichuan province, where a Catholic church located on the beautiful Ermei Mountains used to hold Bible meetings three times a week for its over 400 believers. Now with enforced suspension of all large-scale activities, including church meetings, these believers, albeit homebound, are spending more time than ever before, doing their own Bible reading.

“I’m old and it would not be long before I make my final journey but I haven’t even read much of the Bible!” confessed one 80-year old man whose family name is Meng.

“During this time of isolation, I read the Bible without stopping for 10 days and I could not stop reading about God’s forgiveness and love for me. Now I want to spend the rest of my life reading the Bible!”

The hope that only God’s Word brings

And with this thirst for God’s Word comes the need for Bibles.

Happily, now lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted in many parts of China, the Amity Printing Press in Nanjing has begun printing Bibles again.

This is great news, as it is the largest producer of Bibles in the world, and previous to the COVID-19 outbreak, celebrated publishing it 200 millionth Bible in October 2019!

One of our board members, Rev. Marc Bircham, was able to attend this celebration, and found the whole experience very moving.

You can read about his trip in the latest issue of Transform magazine (available to read here) or watch his interview below.