Customs officials confiscated 315 Chinese Bibles from a Vision Beyond Borders team on Sunday, August 17, 2008. The Bibles were hidden in the group’s suitcases. They were discovered as the group passed through customs in the Kunming airport. Forrest Higginbotham, age 78, an area coordinator in The Voice of the Martyrs’ Voice Volunteer Network (VVN), was a member of the team, along with his grandson, Stephen Constantinou, 15.
The team, led by Patrick Klein of VBB, refused to leave the customs area without the Bibles. Because of past experience, Klein thought the Bibles would be lost if they left them unattended.
The event had significant foreign media coverage. By cell phone from the airport, Patrick told the Associated Press, “I heard that there’s freedom of religion in China, so why is there a problem for us to bring Bibles?” He told them the customs officials said they could only have one personal Bible each.
The group fasted while they waited. Authorities tried to entice them to leave the area to eat. Officials also tried to get them to leave by telling them they needed to go to an office in the city. The Associated Press spoke to a customs official who said they were just “taking care” of the Bibles.
On Monday, with the advice of the U.S. Embassy, the team agreed to leave the airport, with the option of picking the Bibles up when they left the country. In a press release from VBB, Klein reiterated China’s desperate need for Bibles. There are thousands of Chinese believers who do not have Bibles while 30 to 40,000 people in China become Christians every day. “Many pastors don’t even have a Bible,” Patrick said.
Continue to pray that God’s Spirit will penetrate into China and that followers of Jesus will have access to his Word.