ATLANTA- Being invited to the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta (RCCA) Annual Prayer Breakfast, the top leaders of the 'Three-Self' Church of China shared about the situation of Bible printing and churches in China.
At the Cathedral of St. Philip, a church right across the China Bible Ministry Exhibition place, some 250 Christians from Atlanta and surrounding states listened to the keynote address by president of the China Christian Council Rev. Cao Shengjie and vice-president of the China Christian Council Rev. Shen Cheng En.
Shen, as the executive secretary of the first Bible printing commission in China formed in March 1980, recalled how the commission has resumed the printing of Bible in that particular sensitive period after the Cultural Revolution.
"When the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) Committee of the Protestant Churches of China held the first Standing Committee Meeting after the Cultural Revolution, the participants focused on the re-printing of the Bible," said Shen.
The meeting has decided to print 50,000 copies for the first time. And 10,000 out of the 50,000 copies will be the New Testament only. The reason is that the New Testament will take much less time to print, at the same time, more people can receive the Bible with the same amount of paper.
"In October 1980, during the second meeting of the Standing Committee, all the delegates received a copy of the Bible as souvenirs. Many of them broke into tears," Shen recalled.
Later, since there was a need to produce the simplified Chinese edition with modern punctuation for the young people who do not read traditional Chinese, Shanghai churches are invited to help. Some 20 Christian believers from different churches then gathered together to copy the Bible by hands, firstly the New Testament and the Book of Psalms, and translated in into simplified Chinese written horizontally. Proofreading was done before sending the manuscript to the printing factory and also a few other times after the printings were completed.
"We did everything with manual labor and it was really difficult," said Shen.
However, Shen was grateful that later the United Bible Society Asia Pacific section has offered hands to help printing of Bibles in China as saying, "The Church in China can then produce Bible with quicker speed under the guidance of the Lord. Praise to the Lord and may all glory be to Him."
President of CCC Rev. Cao Shengjie gave her speech mainly reporting about the situation of the Church in China. Cao mentioned of the most difficult times of China to Christians and other intellectuals, so-called Cultural Revolution, "That time people can only gather at houses secretly we have to stay underground, but thank God, now it's all over."
Speaking of the Church in China today, just as Cao did in many other occasions in the U.S., she declared once again, "Since 1979, the church has reopened. Now we enjoy religious freedom and more and more new churches were built." Cao gave some statistics to support the statement, saying that there are now more than 16 million Protestant Christians in China, over 55,000 Christian churches and meeting places, as well as 18 seminaries.
"Church is growing very fast in china, and more young people are willing to go to the church," Cao reiterated. Once again she emphasized that not only the grace of God has allowed the Church of China to grow, but also due to the success of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) founded in 1954. "Three-self" churches uphold the principles of self-governance, self-support and self-propagation of the gospel.
"The essence of that is to build a real Chinese church. At this moment, no one will say you are a foreign church, but we are a church in china that runs by Chinese Christians," said Cao.
Cao celebrated that today many people in the society of China begin to realize that religions "will help people to do good," although most of them have known nothing about Christianity. Therefore, the witness of Christians is very important, concluded Cao.
Cao stressed on the one belief the China church has: "Glorify God and benefit people and we are the light and the salt of the world." She said the Church in China encourages friendship evangelism and personal witnessing. Also, the church also used some public occasions such as worship services, weddings and funerals to preach the Good News to many people as a way of mass evangelism.
Even though there is no denomination in China, the tradition of churches may be different. Therefore, the Church in China is also striving to "seek the common ground and keep the difference". The key to harmony is "respect each other" and to know that "we are all Christians, children of God and we are all under one baptism," according to Cao.
Lastly, Cao expressed gratitude to be able to share with RCCA the common goal to glorify God and to build His kingdom on earth.