SANTA ANA, CA – Open Doors is committed to providing 1 million pieces of children’s literature to China in 2004, including 81,500 beautifully illustrated children’s Bibles as well as Sunday School materials and song books. It is part of Open Doors' commitment to provide over 3 million Bibles and other Christian resources for our suffering brothers and sisters in China.
Many Sunday School teachers and distributors face great risks to teach children about Jesus and deliver Christian materials. In many parts of China, youths are not allowed access to religious teaching of any kind and are taught in school and college that God does not exist and that believing in Jesus is unpatriotic. Anyone caught teaching Christianity to youth under 18 can face fines, beatings, imprisonment, torture and interrogation. Christian children can face ridicule, discrimination and violence in school because of their faith.
A Chinese mother told an Open Doors worker: “The teacher told the other children ‘you can beat up a Christian child unless they deny their faith.’ Another teacher took a 6-year-old girl and cut her hair in lumps in front of the class with all her peers jeering at her because she was a Christian.”
However, despite the difficulties, Open Doors has learned that Sunday Schools are thriving throughout the country. One co-worker reports: “A few co-workers in northeast China attended one of our Sunday School training seminars. They went back and shared the vision of beginning a children’s Sunday School in their network and it has literally exploded with growth. They went from having no Sunday School to having hundreds of Sunday Schools established. A Sunday School coordinator in central China asked Open Doors, ‘Can you send some children’s Bibles to Sister J’s network in central China?’ They have over 1,000 Sunday Schools set up, so you can imagine how many they’ll need if every child receives one.”
Approximately 500,000 pieces of children’s literature were distributed in 2003 and received an emotional welcome, as one Open Doors co-worker describes: “We called the entire distribution list to make sure they received the first portion of the Sunday School materials. They cried with tears they were so moved. They said these are the best Sunday School materials they have ever seen. We gave 2,000 sets to one nationwide network. They said it is not enough so we need to increase the amount to 3,000 sets next time. This should be enough to at least help them get started.”
An Open Doors co-worker explains why Sunday School materials are so gratefully received in China: “Most of the sisters who are teaching children’s Sunday School didn’t attend Sunday School as children because of the severe persecution in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They need song books so they can learn the songs and then teach the children to sing. Even though the Sunday School has to remain secret, the children still love to sing and worship.”
For some, learning about Jesus can only take place in the family unit, but even here the Bibles are coming into their own as an Open Doors co-worker in southern China explains: “The children’s Bible storybook is good because it helps the parents teach the Bible to their children at home starting at a young age. It even has questions at the end of each story to help children grasp the main points and help them apply the principles to their lives. It’s very useful for family devotions.”
Teenagers will also start receiving materials of their own – an answer to prayer for one Sunday School coordinator who fasted and prayed for 21 days for Christian teenage materials. He says: “We are just now starting to receive the children’s Sunday School materials you are providing us. Everyone is so excited. These materials are targeting children age 12 and under. We thank the Lord for this, but we also really need something for the 13 to 18-year-old's. I have been fasting and praying to the Lord about this for 21 days. Now that I hear about your plan to provide for the teenagers too, I know God has heard our prayers.”
It is estimated that China’s population includes 500 million youths who are under 18 years old.
“A Sunday School teacher in China told me a story about a student who was told he would be kicked out of school because he was going to Sunday School,” says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “He then told his teacher with tears in his eyes that he would choose Jesus because he would rather go to Sunday School and learn about Jesus than learn his school lesson. This is huge because education in China is everything.
“With some intervention, that child was allowed to stay in school. But the witness of the children in China is just tremendous. Sunday Schools are impacting not only the children but the entire fabric of Chinese society. That is why it is so important we provide them with children’s Bibles and other materials.”