In the face of adversity, such as the Covid-19 virus outbreak in China which is now a global health emergency, Chinese Christians find themselves drawing closer to God. During this time of home quarantine for the health and safety of all citizens, the authorities forbid all collective gatherings, imposed extended holidays for schools and companies and travel restrictions. Some cities have stepped up precautionary measures by allowing only one or two household members to leave the house to buy daily essentials every other day or once in five days.
Sister Meng Jiumei , age 47, is from Hebei Province and she is a 7th generation Catholic in her family . She came to Sichuan province during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and she stayed to serve in the Leshan Diocese of Sichuan Province. About 3 years ago, she was asked to serve at Longchi Church, a Catholic church located at mid-way up Mount Emei in Sichuan Province. Although Mt Emei is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains of China, Longchi Church is one of the two Catholic churches in this area dating back almost 190 years.
What would make you very happy? Even beaming with great joy? For Catholics in rural areas of Shandong province, it was receiving Bibles donated by overseas believers. In Pingyin, there are 15 churches and 5,000 Catholics. According to Father Wang Jian, who has been shepherding in Pingyin for the past two years, there had been Catholics in this area since the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century. In the early 17th century, the Jesuit missionaries moved to Shandong to share the faith; they later handed over to the Franciscan missionaries who continued with the good work.
Many Chinese Christians don’t have a Bible and can’t afford one. Every year, Bible Society’s around the world raise funds to distribute Bibles throughout China. This is Liu’s story. In Oct 2015, the Bible Society China Partnership met Liu Fengqing, a Catholic from Shandong Province. Liu bought Bibles to bless those who couldn’t afford them. Three years later, a generous donor decided to donate Bibles through the Bible Society’s China Partnership to Liu’s home church after reading about her story. Upon receiving the 112 Catholic Bibles, Liu’s priest commissioned her to distribute them to the needy. The Bible Society team visited Liu again in November 2018. By then she had distributed more than 60 Bibles to needy families – many of who were elderly, sick or disabled. They are all her friends whom she has come to know through her home visit ministry. Together with a few volunteers, she has been visiting more than 10 villages for over 10 years. Liu and her team clean up homes and buy food for needy families. Some of them do not have family members to take care of them. Through her acts of service, some of those she ministered to have come to accept the Catholic faith. One of the recipients of a new Bible is 39 year-old Zhang Pengpeng. Zhang has suffered from rheumatism since he was 18. He is paralysed, unable to move his legs or his left arm. Zhang lives with his elderly parents who are poor. Together, they had a New Testament, but not a full Bible. This is their first. Zhang reads the Bible every day. He says that his overall impression of the Bible is God’s message to care for the poor. Despite his condition, Zhang always smiles. He is so thankful to Liu for the Bible.
“I have a calling. I want to help children,” Maya says. Maya is using her experience to help others Maya listened to God. She studied Medical Health because she wanted to work with children. After completing her degree in Damascus, Maya worked for Catholic relief organisation Caritas. Her own experiences and terrible memories during her studies have allowed Maya to work with traumatised children and she has made the need for Bible-based trauma healing training known. Trauma healing is clinical therapy based on the principles of the Bible. It is designed to help bring healing to Syrian families and children who have suffered trauma from the daily experiences of war. The programme is run by the Bible Society in Syria.
Bible Society New Zealand has just given 5,000 specially designed Bibles to the chaplaincy service of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). For the first time ever, the Bibles were individually tailored to members of New Zealand’s Airforce, Navy and Army. Each of the three different editions of the NZDF Bible includes messages from the Governor General and the Principal Defence Force Chaplain Ants Hawes, along with NZDF photographs, the National Anthem and the relevant prayer for each of the Forces. The majority of the Bibles will be given to new NZDF recruits who can choose to attest on the Bible at their swearing in ceremony. “They are then asked if they would like to keep the Bible,” Ants Hawes says.
More than 65,000 Kiwi kids and their families were reached with a seriously surprising Easter story Bible Society’s colourful little booklet, The Seriously Surprising Story has been positively received by tens of thousands of Kiwi families this Easter through churches, in Salvation Army Family Stores and schools. “I know our students will enjoy reading The Seriously Surprising Story books that were received last week,” said one Catholic School Principal. Bible Society published The Seriously Surprising Story to reach the many Kiwi kids who do not know about Jesus or know the real meaning of Easter. The booklet encourages children to engage with the biblical story of Easter as they read about the journey of Jesus’ followers from Jerusalem to Emmaus. On the road, Jesus’ followers meet a stranger and tell him about some of the amazing the miracles Jesus performed. The children will be surprised to learn that Jesus himself is the stranger! Bible Society New Zealand would not have been able to bring The Seriously Surprising Story to Kiwi kids this Easter without the generosity of its supporters and donations. You can still order copies of The Seriously Surprising Story on Bible Society’s website.