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At a recent gathering outside the country, hundreds of house church leaders from throughout China received training and encouragement to help them minister more effectively. Before leaving the conference, they were all given something illegal to take home.

The pastors had requested tools to help them go deeper into God’s Word, so Voice of the Martyrs provided each of them with a high-quality study Bible. They were excited to receive their gift, even though they knew it could cause them trouble.

“People who joined the meeting are from all over the country,” said Pastor Ho, one of the conference organisers. “They are eager to have these Bibles because where they live and the official policy of the country, they cannot get this high-quality Bible. When they came to our meeting, we invited some pastors from all over the world to teach them for four days. Now you offered these Bibles, and it has enriched the knowledge of what they were studying.”

Pastor Ho knows better than most, the dangers of carrying such a Bible in some parts of the country. His church is in Zhejiang Province, where the government has removed crosses from as many as 1700 church buildings.

“The government does not know about these Bibles, and we will not let them know this,” he said. “We have to be very low profile because of the actions they have taken, like removing crosses. The brothers and sisters want the training of the Bible and we offer them an opportunity to study. Most of them are preachers. Some of them are living in the north, and they need to take a train for two or three days to join the meeting. They are not rich, like most preachers in China are not rich. We offer the Bibles to them and they are very thankful.”

While China’s government-sponsored Bible printer, Amity Printing Company, boasts of printing Bibles in more than 90 languages and exporting them to more than 70 nations, the printer doesn’t keep up with the demand for Bibles in China. In addition, the Bibles it produces do not contain commentaries, footnotes or other study tools to help readers better understand the Scriptures. Such Bibles are outlawed.

China’s communist government seeks to control not only Bible printing but also Bible distribution. Anyone who prints or distributes Bibles without government permission could be sentenced to years in prison.

Pastor Ho supports the continued smuggling of Bibles into China, even though it is illegal, and said Chinese Christians are willing to pay the price for owning them.

“The greatest worth is the Bible to help the setting up of the Gospel in China a lot,” he said. “It is very important. The influence will spread more and more in the future. When we share the message with these preachers, they will spread out the seed, and more people will believe in Jesus because of this. More souls will be saved.”

Please pray for VOM’s Bible distribution program, Christian literature printing and front line worker ministry.