A first-hand account, written by Steve Pearce, Partnership Co-ordinator for Asia of the Methodist Church, of the moment that the Amity press printed its 100 millionth Bible!
It was a very exciting occasion! On 8 November, 2012, I was present in the printing factory in Nanjing, China, as Amity’s 100 millionth Bible was produced.
Guests had come from all over the world and all over China, including Party officials, to make speeches giving their congratulations on this wonderful achievement.
Not long ago, Chinese Christians were lucky if they had even a few handwritten pages of the Bible, then, in 1986, Amity was formed and began printing Bibles. Now they come off the presses at the rate of one every second.
Official figures give the number of Christians in China as twenty-three million, but it is likely to be far higher, maybe approaching one hundred million. Christianity is growing quickly, as are Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism. Providing adequate numbers of well-trained ministers is a priority for the Church and current efforts are not keeping pace with the growth. Religions are now being seen by the Government as useful agencies in building a harmonious society and addressing social problems.
In the twenty-seven years since its foundation by Chinese Christian leaders as an independent Chinese voluntary organization, the Amity Foundation has built a reputation for excellence in social development programmes both within China and internationally. This was reflected in the range and superiority of the two-hundred guests present at the anniversary celebrations.
Although the Central Committee of the Communist Party was in session electing the country’s new leadership, Amity had been allowed to go ahead with the celebrations and national Party officials attended and spoke in praise of Amity’s achievements, along with representatives from the Provincial Government Religious Affairs Department, universities, diplomats, church leaders and Bible societies.
The Bible celebration took place at the new, hi-tech printing works and the actual moment of seeing the 100 millionth Bible—which we all did on a video screen—was very moving. The book was passed in turn to several of the workers who told their story of working for Amity—some of them for the full twenty-six years—and finally to the oldest board member of the Amity Printing Press.
The Amity Foundation, in carrying out its activities, is consciously contributing to China’s links with the rest of the world and this is true of its printing work, too. The Amity Printing Company is now the largest producer of Bibles in the world, and of the hundred million produced so far, sixty million are being read in China and forty million are for the world market, in many different languages. The Amity Foundation is proud of this contribution to the rest of the World Church.