By BosNewsLife News Center
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) — The largest-ever delivery of Bibles by sea to China, known as ‘Project Pearl’, has contributed to a major underground house church movement in the country and an unprecedented growth of Christianity here, despite reports of persecution, BosNewsLife established Sunday, December 17.
China’s ‘Pearl Bibles’ Contribute To Unprecedented Growth of Christianity in Communist Open Doors, the group that organized ‘Project Pearl’, said at least one of the estimated one million Bibles that were brought to China under cover of darkness on June 18, 1981, ended up in the hands of a man who had “prayed for three years to receive a Bible.” After reading all the Scriptures “three times in just three weeks” he decided to become an evangelist and now leads a house church organization with an estimated 400,000 members, Open Doors said.
It is believed that other house church groups started elsewhere because of Project Pearl, which involved boats bringing a load of Bibles that weighed 232 tons. There was also an intrepid team led by a former US marine, known only as ‘Brother David’, Christians recalled. There are roughly 80 million Christians in China, with most of them worshipping outside the Communist Party backed churches, according to church estimates.
News of the apparent impact of Project Pearl came shortly after a funeral service was held in Mission Vejo, California this week for Ed Neteland, the executive director of the Christian Association of Senior Adults (CASA) who played a key role in ‘Project Pearl.’ He died Sunday, December 3 at the age of 74, of complications related to brain surgery following an accident at his home, the Christian ASSIST News Service (ANS) said.
In a statement to BosNewsLife, Open Doors Netherlands Spokesman Jeno Sebok suggested that Neteland, who was Director of Open Doors USA, would have been pleased with the results. “It is amazing to see how big the impact has been of these Bibles. That’s not only because of the huge number, but because God has given His blessings over most of these Bibles,” Sebok explained.
In remarks distributed by Open Doors Netherlands, a man who was only identified under his pen name Brother Daniel, recalled that 2,000 Christians of the underground church movement awaited the arrival of the Bibles at a beach, now known Shantou. Daniel initially was rowing a small boat to the main tug boat to help with pushing the Bibles into the sea. Bibles in special water prove packages eventually arrived at the beach where anxious believers tried to hide them in nearby villages.
Sebok said however that Chinese police arrived the next morning when not all Bibles were “brought to safety.” Many Bibles were thrown back into the sea and others were burnt. Many Bibles were later recovered by Chinese fishermen who used Bible pages to package their fish, Sebok explained. When local Christians discovered this, they asked fishermen to sell the Bibles to them.
The Pearl Bibles ended up in nearly all Chinese provinces. Some were partly burnt; others were ravaged by the sea. And some had smell of perfume, as “Christians cleaned them after discovering that authorities had thrown them into cesspools.” That determination, Sebok and other rights activists suggest, has helped to boost the spread of Christianity in Communist China. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar in the Netherlands.)
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