From time to time, we at the Southeast Asia Reformed Network want to share with you some of the Reformed initiatives that are happening throughout Asia. In today’s post, we highlight the Robert Morrison Project. What follows is written by Phil Remmers of the Robert Morrison Project.
The Christian community around the world has long been aware of the efforts of various organizations involved in smuggling Bibles into China. Riveting accounts of suitcases bulging with Bibles, tense border crossings, and deliveries made in the middle of the night have long been the lore of missionary newsletters. In recent years some have turned to underground printing presses to print Bibles and other helpful Christian literature. Over the last 30 years, these efforts have been an invaluable help to churches and believers all across China.
Remarkably, in the last few years an entirely new avenue has opened up: legally publishing Christian literature in China. Since 2003 it has become possible to obtain a government issued International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for some forms of Christian literature. Once an ISBN has been granted, a book can be legally published and distributed throughout China. For many books, obtaining an ISBN is a long, difficult process, and not every book receives approval. However, if approved, a legally published book opens the door to a whole range of opportunities that are not available to an underground book. For example, a legal book can be sold in one of the approximately 167,000 bookstores or on the 300 online bookstores in China.
Stop and think for a moment about this amazing opportunity. The church in China has between 80 to 100 million believers and yet only a small handful of Christian titles are in legal circulation. This recent change in government policy allows the church to access quality Christian literature. With the Chinese church being one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the world, this is an open door that we can not, and must not, pass up.
The purpose of the Robert Morrison Project is to lay the foundation for the long term, legal presence of Reformed literature in China. Over the next 10 years our initial goal is to translate 50 titles in China and publish them by applying for government issued ISBN numbers. Lord willing, we trust this first step will be the first of many towards filling the publishing vacuum in China. As more literature becomes available, this will be a vital resource for pastors and church leaders as they shepherd the church.
We seek to encourage the Christian community outside of China – especially the Reformed community – to take steps toward rectifying this publishing imbalance. Churches in the West are highly saturated with Reformed literature. When a church leader attends a pastor’s conference or a denominational meeting, the book room is often stacked floor to ceiling with quality books. The pastor’s study is often filled with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of excellent books passed down to us from our Puritan and Reformed forefathers. Unfortunately, the situation is very different in China and other Asian countries. Many times a pastor in China has a Bible and not much else. The good news is that publishing options exist today that were not available even just 10 years ago. The work of the Robert Morrison Project could lead to the wide dissemination of Reformed literature in the years to come.
To learn more about this vital publishing project, please contact us at the address below or visit our website. Soli Deo Gloria
Robert Morrison Project ~ P.O. Box 51788 ~ Durham, NC 27717 ~ USA