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.
As with the Chinese Protestants, most of the Chinese Catholics live in the rural areas. “Our parishioners are mostly subsistence farmers growing mainly maize, wheat and peaches.”
“In the past, Bibles were really scarce. I saw the Bible for the first time in my late teens!” shared Father Wang.
With partnership between the Catholic Church in China and United Bible Societies, the Studium Biblicum Bible, the Chinese Catholic Bible, was made available in mainland China in 1994.
Since then, with donations from overseas believers, more and more Chinese Catholics have been able to have ready access to God’s Word. Here are some of their stories…
Ai Mingling didn’t use to read the Bible. But after she attended the church Bible reading class, she felt the Lord speaking to her from Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Praise God that she is increasingly letting the Word of God guide her daily life.
Wei Zhuan, 64, has never owned a Bible before. He lives alone. This former security guard is not able to work now due to poor health. Thank God for Liu Fengqin (on left) who visits him regularly. Pray for Wei to experience the presence of God with him as he reads the Bible.
Tang feels that when he pulls himself out of his busyness and intentionally carves out time to read the Word of God, the Lord never fails to encourage and strengthen him. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Zhang Pengpeng, 39, with his mother, thanked donors for his first Bible, which he has been reading everyday enthusiastically since receiving it. Though paralysed from the waist down since he was 18, Zhang is full of joy knowing that God saves the poor.