Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Chinese Puzzle 

Had lunch with Mike today. Well, almost. The computer was down at the Bridge Cafe, so they missed our order. We got it straightened out, but Mike couldn't wait, so they returned his money. Just one of those things, and they were pretty good about it, so what can you say? That place is very busy on a Saturday--the only way it works at all is because their system is fully computerized. But when the computer is down, it is pretty near impossible to keep things straight.

But we had a good talk. Mike had read my post about the Shouwang Church, and wanted to see me. He is in China to do some research for the latest edit of his book. I told him that I felt that what happened at the Shouwang Church wasn't really news. I still have mixed feelings about it, because I don't know that it should be the government's business to decide how big a church congregation can be. But the government does have a very definite policy on church registration, and Shouwang Church was not registered, and had no intention to do so. Small family churches are technically exempt from this requirement, but Shouwang Church was operating in a manner that demonstrated very publicly that they were not small, and did not intend to be small. They had a thousand "members." I use the term "members" loosely, because membership in house churches is quite informal. But it's actually quite informal in Three Self Churches too. Bottom line: What happened to Shouwang Church was to be expected, given the present state of things in China. But the government is going to discover that this problem is not going to go away. Christianity is growing exponentially in China. There will be other Shouwangs.

Mike's organization is involved with distributing Bibles, and building church buildings for family churches in the countryside. I was very interested to hear that he buys the Bibles from the place where they are published in Nanjing, and then distributes them in the countryside. I told him this is exactly the way things should be done. I have met and heard of people who were involved in "smuggling": Bibles into China. It always strikes me as completely absurd to smuggle Bibles into China from outside, when they can be purchased quite easily here. Mike told me that at any one time, the plant in Nanjing has a quarter of a million Bibles. They decide how many Bibles to print by replenishing that supply.

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