“They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away... Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:5, 8-9).
In this special Asia Harvest newsletter we give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ. By His great power and grace we recently passed the all-time milestone of 10 million Chinese Bibles printed and delivered to house church Christians in China!
For us, this vision began in 1988, when God first called Paul to carry Bibles from Hong Kong across the border into Mainland China. Joy received a separate call a few years later, and we met on the mission field and later got married. For the first decade or so of our service, the only way to get precious Scriptures into China was by carrying them in bags and suitcases across the border. We hosted numerous short-term teams who hauled tons of Bibles to hungry Chinese believers. This method was exciting, but also costly and slow. By the late 1990s it was clear the need for Bibles among the house churches in China was so large due to revival, that carrying one bag at a time was never going to meet the need.
In the 12 years from 1988 to 2000, the teams we hosted carried a total of around 174,000 Bibles into China. Then in 2000 a door opened for us to work with house church networks to discreetly print Bibles directly inside the country. This development immediately opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
“With great thanksgiving to God I commend Asia Harvest and all of their supporters as they celebrate 10 million Bibles provided to the Church in China!
I have cherished my relationship with Paul and Joy since 1992, when we first met while distributing God’s Word in China. The need remains enormous, and Asia Harvest’s faithful consistent role has been vital over many years.
China is a huge nation, and while we are thankful that millions now have access to Bibles, we grieve that many millions of believers are still unable to access God’s Word—not counting the hundreds of millions of potential seekers.”
Over the years, Asia Harvest has consistently demonstrated the highest integrity, wisdom, and a servant heart to extend God’s glory and not their own. I hope the Lord will enable them to continue and even expand in the years ahead.
— Gary Russell, Director of China Harvest
Two Pivotal Events
Over the years the Lord greatly increased the number of Bibles we have printed and distributed in China. If anyone reading this newsletter looks at us and thinks we achieved this goal, they have completely missed the truth. This hasn’t been a human accomplishment, but a miracle from the Living God.
Looking back, we can see how the Holy Spirit orchestrated certain events which proved to be major spiritual landmarks along the way. We have never publicly shared the following two stories before...
The first key event took place in central China in the year 2000, at a meeting with a group of about 40 house church leaders. One evening, a senior leader unexpectedly felt led by the Holy Spirit to pray for us. He consulted some of his colleagues, and a few minutes later a group of eight or nine men emerged from their dormitory, saying they believed the Lord wanted them to pray a special blessing over us. The leaders sat me down on a chair in the middle of the room. They laid their hands on my head and cried out in unified prayer, as they typically do in China.
After praying intensely for about ten minutes, the senior pastor said, “Brother Paul, we recognize the special gifts God has given you, and we ask the Holy Spirit to pour His blessings upon you and your family. May you be anointed with the power and presence of Jesus Christ, and may His favor rest on the work of your hands, so that millions of people will hear the gospel!”
In hindsight, it’s clear that our work took off exponentially after that powerful prayer of blessing in China. The quantity of Bibles we provided experienced a dramatic and sustained increase from that moment on.
The second pivotal event occurred in 2006, in the small town of North Bend, Washington. We had traveled to the bedside of a dying man, Brother David, who wanted us to record his testimony. Brother David’s emaciated body was literally being eaten up by diabetes. He was partially blind and deaf, and had suffered multiple heart attacks over the years.
Over the course of a week, David shared his remarkable testimony from the early 1980s, when he led a bold and courageous project that delivered one million Bibles by ship to a beach in Mainland China. David and the crew literally risked their lives, and by the hand of God, 232 tons of Bibles were delivered ashore to thousands of waiting Chinese believers, who had been starved of God’s Word for decades. Brother David’s story was published in the book, Project Pearl: The 1-Million Smuggled Bibles that Changed China.
Before we left his home, David shared with me how as a young man God had given him a vision to provide ten million Bibles to Christians in China. For years both before and after the risky boat delivery in 1981, he led initiatives toward achieving this goal, but then failing health took its toll. In total, he told me he had been involved in providing about two million Bibles to China, but he knew he would not be able to reach the target the Lord had given him.
David prayed for us and asked the Lord to transfer this vision to Asia Harvest, for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom in China. We agreed, and with tears in his eyes, he prayed the Holy Spirit might anoint our lives and work, so that at least ten million Chinese Bibles would be distributed to believers in China.
Brother David died in May 2007, but the graph on the following page reveals the results of his prayer. In subsequent years our project took off exponentially, and has continued strongly under the hand of God’s blessing to the present day.
Our Secret Fundraiser
The famous missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, once wrote, “God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.”
Over the years, some people have noticed the large quantity of Bibles we distribute, and assume we must be well connected to some rich and famous people. Nothing could be further from the truth, although we are joined to the richest and most powerful individual in the universe, who once declared, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Psalm 50:12).
From the start of this project (and others) we have never begged or asked anyone for support, nor have we held fundraising programs or employed any gimmicks to try to get things done. All we have had is our free newsletter, and later our website, where people are welcome to pray and participate financially if the Lord leads them, without feeling compelled or manipulated.
By adopting this strategy and always seeking to put God’s kingdom first, the Lord Jesus has honored His work and has been pleased to supernaturally provide bread to feed His hungry children throughout China’s house churches.
From a human perspective, our ministry had no chance of producing significant numbers of Bibles. We have had one special advantage, however, which tipped the scales in our favor. The Lord Jesus Himself decided to be our fund-raiser! As this crucial project blossomed, the Holy Spirit moved on the hearts of many people to pray and give so that Chinese Christians—especially new believers living in impoverished rural areas—would have access to His Word.
Thanks to the grace of God and your prayers and generous support, Asia Harvest recently passed the milestone of ten million Chinese Bibles printed and delivered to the house churches in China. Our co-workers provide detailed reports, allowing us to keep track of every Bible we print and to create this distribution map. On behalf of all the grateful believers in China, thank you and God bless you!
Instead of connecting us with a few large donors, the Lord chose to link us together with hundreds of normal believers throughout the world. We marvel at the wisdom of God in leading us to function in this manner. A few individual snowflakes can easily be brushed aside, but a multitude of snowflakes can join together to stop trucks and derail freight trains.
Over the years, the median size donation we have received is $52, as the Holy Spirit connected us with many members of the Body of Christ. The number of Bibles we were able to provide grew rapidly, and God gained much glory for His Name.
We received many touching letters from Christians who sensed the Holy Spirit prompt them to support the Bible project. Some children broke open their piggy-banks and sent their hard-earned savings. One young American lady mailed a check for $5,000, with a note explaining that she had been saving for her wedding, but the Lord directed her to give the money to print Chinese Bibles instead.
A dear sister in Europe, who has suffered many hardships throughout her life, wrote to us after sending a donation a few months ago. She said, “I want to share with you that this moment is a precious and much desired occasion in my life. By the grace of God, with my recent gift I have now personally sent 100,000 Bibles to the suffering church. To reach this target took 40 years. Please pray that I may continue in my work for Him as I grow older.”
What God Has Done
Some people assume that printing “illegal” Bibles inside Communist China must be a fairly straightforward task. If they tried it, they would soon discover that China has crafted one of the most sophisticated and intrusive security mechanisms of any country on earth. They are determined to control the population, and they don’t hesitate to crush any perceived threats to their authority. Printing or distributing Bibles this way inside China carries the risk of a three-year prison sentence without trial for those involved. Many have been willing to count the cost.
We bow in amazement before the One who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18), as we consider what the Lord Jesus Christ has achieved through the China Bible Fund. It is astonishing what He has done! Consider this astonishing fact: Most of the Bibles we produce are 5.7 inches (14.6 cm) in length. If each of the ten million Bibles was laid end-to-end, do you know how far they would stretch? The line would go 900 miles, or 1,460 kilometers!
Truly, our Lord “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (Eph. 3:20-21).
Large quantities of Bibles cannot be safely produced and delivered inside China apart from the supernatural power of the Almighty God, and with hundreds of intercessors praying for divine protection over every step of the process. Each Bible produced and delivered under these circumstances really is a miracle.
The tragic reality is that the rural churches of China continue to experience a massive famine of God’s Word today. Several years ago, an extensive survey by many church networks revealed a shortage of 34 million Bibles, just for each member of their fellowships to personally own a copy of God’s Word.
Against all odds, the Lord has taken our small, insignificant ministry, and has provided ten million Bibles to His Church in China. Perhaps one day in the future, things will change and God’s Word will be freely available in China. Until that time, as long as the Lord Jesus enables us, we will continue to supply as many Bibles as possible, at the cost of just $1.80 per full Bible. All glory to the Lamb of God!
Each Bible has been a miracle. Please pray this project will only continue to function “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).
To everyone over the years who has prayed and given, whether through Asia Harvest or other organizations, so that China’s house church Christians would have access to God’s Word, we say thank you!
“Greetings of love in the Name of our Lord Jesus the Christ. We weep with joy and delight each time we receive a new shipment of Bibles, and we thank our Heavenly Father for you, our brothers and sisters, who provide these most precious gifts. The Bible co-ordinator asked us to document how many Bibles we need to meet the current deficit if we are going to provide God’s Word to every new believer in our fellowships. After much research we have discovered that number currently stands at 713,492 Bibles.
We look forward to meeting you all in heaven, where we can personally thank everyone who has provided the Bread of Life to us. Our lives have been eternally touched by your ministry, and many more souls will worship before the Throne because of your loving labors. May our Lord bless you and protect you from evil until we cross over to eternal rejoicing.”
— Brother Li, Senior House Church leader, Eastern China