I understand firsthand about persecution in China. In 1993 I was arrested by border guards for trying to smuggle 50 Bibles into mainland China in my luggage. I was detained for several hours before being released to continue my journey. I probably was not in too much danger, but I could have spent the night in jail if I had not been traveling with an American passport.
The experience had a positive outcome. It motivated me to follow those first 50 Bibles with 50,000 more. With the help of readers of this magazine, we raised enough money to print and distribute 50,000 Bibles in mainland China.
China has been in the news a lot since an American spy plane was detained for 11 days on Hainan Island in April. But the media has focused on more than the political incident, as evidenced by a recent article about the underground church in U.S. News & World Report and the article in this issue of Charisma on the persecuted Christians in that country.
As you can read in Lee Grady's excellent report, the greatest need now of the underground church in China is training in basic biblical doctrines. To meet this need, we are teaming up with Christian Life Missions, our nonprofit partner, to appeal to our readers for help. Christian Life Missions passes on 100 percent of what you give, keeping nothing for administrative or fund-raising costs.
In April, the board of Christian Life Missions voted to make China our No. 1 project for 2001. After meeting with three mission groups, we established these priorities:
Publishing and distributing Christian literature. Although Bibles are still needed, we were told that a greater need now is for books that will help train church leaders. We intend to translate some of our best Charisma House books and to appeal to other publishers and ministries to help us translate their books. Our goal is to raise enough to translate and print 100,000 copies before the end of the year.
We will work with a widely respected international ministry that has the network for printing and distributing already in place. They print only as many books at one time as they can distribute in five days because of the danger of being caught and the concern that confiscated books will be destroyed.
Developing Christian leaders. The article on page 48 explains the need for leadership training in China. We hope to raise money to offer 500 leaders an intensive one-month course at a cost of $100 each. We are working with a North Carolina-based ministry that has been teaching this course for several years.
Aiding the persecuted church. Many Chinese Christians are desperately poor. They can become self-supporting through humanitarian aid we send. But if they are imprisoned or leave their homes for a month of training, their meager earnings may dry up, leaving them destitute. We estimate that the equivalent of $100 each will help 500 families get on their feet so they can spread the gospel.
From time to time we raise money to help ministries we write about in Charisma. But this is the first large project we have undertaken in several years.
Whatever you donate will be divided evenly among the three areas I mentioned. We are convinced the money will be used wisely with nothing wasted. And we have found a way to multiply what you give through matching funds for the first $25,000 donated.
Think of the opportunity we have to impact the kingdom: You can address the needs of the persecuted church, knowing your gift will be matched dollar for dollar for at least the first $25,000 donated. Nothing is taken out for administrative costs, and the money will be channeled through respected ministries that already have the contacts and infrastructure to quickly put this money to use.
I'm praying that after reading the article in this issue about China, becoming aware of the need and being given the opportunity to make a difference, you will give generously. Send your tax-deductible gift to Christian Life Missions, P.O. Box 952248, Lake Mary, Florida 32795-2248, and mark it for the "China House Church Project."
China's persecuted Christians need your help. Won't you respond today?
Stephen Strang is the founding editor of Charisma. Regular updates about our China fund-raising project can be viewed at www.christianlifemissions.org. Just click on the "China House Church Project" icon.