ATLANTA- The second China Bible Ministry Exhibition has kicked-off Friday in Atlanta, a place that witnesses God’s blessings for China on her path of opening itself to Christianity.
At 10: 00 a.m. in the Sanctuary of the Second-Ponce De Leon Baptist Church, the opening ceremony was held. The former president Jimmy Carter has delivered the opening address following prayers and hymns. Recounting his meeting with the Vice Premier of China Deng Xiaoping in 1979 at the White House, the history of Bible printing in China is unveiled.
In January 1979, Carter has made three requests to Deng, including Bible printing in China, reopening of the Church for worships and accepting foreign missionaries. Deng has agreed with the first two requests. Shortly after this conversation, the International United Bible Society worked with the China Christian Council and built the Nanjing Amity Printing Press in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.
Since the 1980’s, the Nanjing Amity Printing Press continues to serve the Mainland Chinese Christians as the sole official Bible printing group. In January 2006, it has celebrated the printing of a total of 40 million Bibles.
Following the speech of Carter, the director-general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) of the People’s Republic of China Ye Xiaowen, has mentioned that significant encounter between Carter and Deng in his responding speech, describing them as the two "pioneers" who re-established the ties between the U.S. and China after the Cultural Revolution.
Since Carter is based in Atlanta, Ye hopes that American people will learn more about China , especially in terms of the development of Christianity, through the Bible Exhibition hosted at this city today.
Rev. Mei Kangjun, executive assistant secretary of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), expressed gratitude for Carter has testified the work of God in China through that particular historical conversation with Deng at White House.
"At the time of Deng Xiaopeng, it was really difficult. Under the atheist environment of China, Deng has attempted to reform and open the country, trying to introduce a completely new concept into China. Jimmy Carter recalled this period of the history of China in his speech, it has allowed us to see God’s work in the history of China," Mei said.
Even the speech of Ye has "amazingly" included that historical conversation between Carter and Deng, Mei further commented the speech of Ye showed that "the understanding towards religion of the high-ranked Chinese government officials has advanced a lot."
Mei also celebrated the unity of Christians in the Bible that has overcome all boundaries between nations and cultures as saying, "Compared to Los Angeles where there are more Chinese, we have rather met more native Americans here. However, we discover that for all kinds of people, their focus is on the Bible.
They asked a lot of questions such as the religious freedom in China. This exhibition has provided an opportunity for them to understand the real situation of the church in china. Even though they may not be able to see the entire picture, but at least, they have witnessed it here, I am very thankful for that."
"Although revealing God’s glory and the Great Commission to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth are very difficult tasks, through uniting in the Bible, God has abundant grace and he is guiding us to run towards the goal through his work," said Mei, referring to the development of Bible ministry in China witnessed by the Atlanta’s exhibition this time.
Mei quoted the parable that Ye has used in his speech, "The Exhibition is like a little bird flying to Atlanta, where it is a new place that all people can take rest through uniting in the Bible in the midst of frustration and anxiety."
Atlanta, as part of the Bible belt, is not only characterized by the huge number of churches, but also the way that Christians understand the Bible in this region. The city is known for its comparatively conservative stance in the practice of Christian faith. According to Mei, God has opened a new way in this different nation and this different region for them to find out how the gospel can accepted by more people in the world.
A few evangelical Chinese Christians from the largest Chinese Christian church in Atlanta- Atlanta Chinese Christian Church- have visited the exhibition. Despite the critics of evangelicals against the motive of the Church in China to host such Bible exhibition, they appreciate the Christian culture and history of Bible printing in China with a neutral point of view.