Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Brother Andrew, Mao & the hidden bibles

Here is one more great Brother Andrew story which illustrates how big a task lies ahead for today's church in awakening the generation which grew up behind the Iron Curtain to the worth and value of the scriptures.

After his early forays into Eastern Europe, Andrew had the opportunity of getting into China, then during the Cultural Revolution, about as closed as it was possible to be to western influence, never mind Christian thought. Brother Andrew picks up the story on a bridge to the border crossing:

'At long last the British Customs officer (from the Hong Kong side) told us we could cross the bridge. We went single file, stepping cautiously on the cross ties. There were half a dozen of us Europeans in our group; the others were mostly businessmen from England, France and Canada. At the halfway point the shade of green in which the girders were painted was changed. We were in Communist China.

On this side of the border was a much larger complex of buildings, neat and dull, the monotony broken by a profusion of geraniums planted everywhere. The Customs Inspector was a girl, very young, very trim. With a polite smile she said to me, 'Would you please open your valise?'

My heart beat faster. Inside, without any effort to hide them, I had the supply of Chinese bibles with which I would test China's reaction to the presence of a missionary. How was this young official going to react?

I raised the lid to my case, revealing the stacks of bibles. And as I did, I had my first puzzling experience with the Chinese Communists. The Customs Officer didn't touch a thing in my case. She looked at the bibles for a moment, then raised her eyes. 'Thank you sir. Are you carrying a watch, do you have a camera?' she said with her same ever present smile.

No reaction at all to what she had seen in the case. She was twenty, perhaps twenty five years old. Was it possible that she had never seen a bible? That she had no idea what it was?'


China may have been unaware of, or indifferent to the scriptures back then. Complacent even that the work of crushing Christianity and robbing the bible of it's power had been done. Just a few years later in 1981, in an operation called Project Pearl, one million bibles were delivered to a beach in China in one night. This could be Brother Andrew's finest hour.

Who knows this side of eternity what impact these secret missions have had? All we can say is that today in China, conservative estimates number the true church at well over 100 million believers. Perhaps Brother Andrew was right to be bold, and Mao wrong to be complacent?

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