Although some four million Bibles were printed and distributed across China last year, the rapid growth of the church year on year means that demand for Bibles is now outstripping supply, according to the Bible Society.
The official number of Christians in China stands at 28.6 million, but it is believed the true figure could be as high as 90 million if the estimated number of worshippers at unofficial house churches is included.
The UK-based Bible Society subsidises the cost of printing Bibles to keep the cost below £2 a copy, vital for Christians living in China’s rural heartland, where 70 per cent of churchgoers are found and half the population live on less than $2 a day.
The Bibles are printed at the state-owned Amity Printing Company, which has printed around 70 million Bibles since it was established in 1987. Around 50 million of them have gone to Chinese believers.
“As more and more people are joining the Church they are asking for a Bible,” says Bible Society’s China Partnership Co-ordinator Kua Wee Seng.
“Every year we have to raise funds for Bible subsidy. The reason is that in the rural areas where most Christians are found, they are living in relatively poor conditions. In order for them to have a copy of the Bible we have to provide paper so that a Bible is affordable for most of the Christians in China.
“This is a time of opportunity in China. Many of us feel that we mustn’t miss this opportunity or people will turn to something else, other than Christianity.”