ATLANTA- The second China Bible Ministry Exhibition in the United States, sponsored by the official Church in China, will be opened in Atlanta today.
To be held at the Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Northeast Atlanta, the exhibition entitled "A Lamp to My Feet, A Light to My Path - Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Church in China," will be run from May 19 thru May 24. This will be the second time in the United States following the first one in Los Angeles from late April to early May.
According to Tom Jack from the Atlanta regional preparation committee of the Exhibition, many Chinese churches in the region are invited to have a visit.
"This is the first time Chinese Christians have done anything to show those of us outside their country what their personal religious experience has been," explained Dr. David Sapp, senior pastor of the hosting church and the co-chair of the preparation committee.
"In bringing the Bible exhibit to us, they're attempting to reach out and form relationships with the world, an opportunity that has been denied to them before now," he added.
Since there is not a huge Chinese population in Atlanta compared to California, the Atlanta’s Exhibition will be even a better opportunity for the Chinese official church to build relationship with foreign churches and Christian leaders.
The biggest Chinese church- Atlanta Chinese Christian Church- that has a total of 1,400 congregations from both the main church and the North Atlanta branch, says that they have introduced the Exhibition to the congregations so that they may visit there.
The opening ceremony of the Exhibition will be held in the Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church Sanctuary at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 19. Former US President Jimmy Carter is invited to give a speech. Moreover, another prominent guest speaker from the Chinese counterpart will be Ye Xiaowen, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) of China.
Sources say that Jimmy Carter is one of the US politicians that have exerted pressure on the Chinese government and so the path of Bible printing has opened up in China in the 1980’s.
According to an article entitled "Jimmy Carter and Bible Printing in China" written by Rev. Dr. Xiaoling Zhu, Area Executive for East Asia and the Pacific of Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ, former president Carter has made three requests concerning religious freedom in China when meeting with Deng Xiaoping in White House. The three requests were Bible printing in China, reopening the church in China and allowing Christian missions that have no country boundaries.
Deng had agreed with the first two requests. And very soon after the meeting of the two big leaders, the International United Bible Society worked with the China Christian Council and built the Nanjing Amity Printing Press in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, Rev. Zhu wrote in the article.
Rev. Zhu is one of the very few Chinese members of the Atlanta regional preparation committee of the Exhibition this time.
In parallel with the Exhibition in Atlanta, another highlighted event is Annual Prayer Breakfast of the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta on May 20. Rev. Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council (CCC) is invited as one of the speakers and the other top leaders from the China Christian Council/ Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (CCC/TSPM) will attend as well.
CCC/TSPM leaders will be at the Exhibition hall today as it enters the last phase of preparation.
The other hosting organizations and sponsors for the Atlanta Exhibition includes Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Emory University, Haggai Institute, Regional Council of Churches in Atlanta, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church of U.S.A.