“I have been a Christian for 14 years but I have never had a Bible before. Today, I have received my very first Bible,” said Chen Guo Zi, 80, as she held her new Bible and cried.
Mrs Chen is one of about 300 people who benefited from the debut journey last month of China’s first Bible and medical van, which has been deployed in Jiangsu Province.
About 300 Bibles were distributed and 70 people received basic medical care during the van’s visit to Shang Dang village, just over an hour’s drive from Nanjing, the provincial capital.
The village church, set amid beautiful and fragrant fields of yellow rapeseed plants, was cheerfully decorated with pink balloons and colourful flags in celebration of the van’s visit. As it arrived, the church band began playing and members of the congregation came out to warmly welcome the two volunteer doctors and a group of visitors from the Bible Society fellowship. They also helped to unload the boxes of Bibles and medical equipment.
After a short service, preacher Qiao Hong, 46, announced that the Bibles would be distributed to everyone who wanted one.
“These Bibles are given to us by friends from different countries who have a mission in this world to share the Word of God,” she told them. “As Chinese Christians we want and cherish the Word of God.”
When the Bibles were given out, people immediately opened them and started reading. Some held their new Bibles to their chests, closed their eyes and prayed silently and tearfully.
55-year-old Qiu Chang Lai was particularly delighted with her copy.
“Have you seen my old Bible?” she asked. “It’s falling apart and I’ve had to sew it together! I’ve been wanting a new one for some time so I am very excited to get this new Bible today.”
Like many people in this area, Mrs Qiu struggles to make ends meet. Her husband died seven years ago and she does not have a job so she spends much of her time praying and sharing her faith with others. She has been suffering with pain and a swollen neck so was one of the first people to join the long queue to be seen by the doctors in a small room at the back of the church.
Jiangsu’s Bible and medical van is the first of 10 that the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China/ China Christian Council and UBS hope to roll out in different provinces.
(Source: United Bible Society)