An Englishman now living in China has revealed that the company he works for has now brought out 110 Christian books – with the full permission of the government.
|Chinese girl reading a book|
This surprising fact was revealed to me by David Wright, General Manager of ZDL Books, during a recent interview at NRB 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I work for an organization called ZDL and we are based in Beijing and are focused on bringing Christian content legally to China,” Wright began. “We have worked since 2003 to do that and today we have around 110 legally approved books that are being distributed all over the country.
“We also have a number of websites that have been built and are distributing content all over the country and we’re running training events which again are all open and legal.
“China is steadily changing and we’re trying to work with the government, at their pace, to bring Christian content in.”
Wright, who comes originally from England, explained that some of the books they have published in China include, “Spiritual Leadership” by Oswald Sanders, as well as a missionary biography series which have included, “Through Gates Of Splendor” and “Peace Child.”
He went on to say, “We’ve also done a Children’s Bible which is exciting because that has been donated into government-run orphanages and that’s a huge opportunity because those orphanages are filled with kids who have never even heard of the name of Jesus. So we’re getting legal Children’s Bibles into those orphanages.”
Wright then spoke about the procedure they use to get government approval for their books.
“When we go to the government to get approval, we basically work with them to help them to understand what the book is about and to assure them that it’s not going to get them in trouble, because in China, only the government can publish books and the government has allowed around 500 government publishing houses to do just that,” he said.
“So we work with the publishing houses and, if the government officials allow a book to be published, that means that later on, if other parts of the government have a problem with the book, there won’t be difficulties for them. So our role is to work with them to be sure that this is a good book for China.”
When asked how he first got involved with China, Wright replied, “I came to China some eight years ago after a clear call from God to go to there. I spent the first year studying the language and after that I got to know people who were just starting the company, so one thing led onto another and I got involved.”
What changes have you seen since you’ve been in China?
|Chinese man reading book
outdoors in Pingyao, China
“In the area that we’re working there have been huge changes,” he said. “When the Chinese government first came into power in 1949, one of its four goals was to get rid of religion because of the communist idea that religion is the ‘opiate’ of the people. This goal was first in their minds for many years, and that’s why we hear all the stories of the persecution of the Chinese Church.
“Over time, however, particularly in the eighties, the government started to change when they realized that their goal of removing religion wasn’t working. Also, in the early eighties, they realized that if China was going to be number-one in the world, then they had to open up in order to do that.”
Wright said that things really began to change when a top government leader announced publically that “religion is a positive force to society.”
He went on to say, “So that was a huge one-eighty shift. And what I’ve seen during this last seven years is a continual opening up of China from 2003, when there were basically no Christian books, and it was very difficult to do anything legally with Christian content, to today were there’s over 200 legal Christian bookstores around the country and also a very fast growing Chinese Christian web presence and we and we have been able to publish these 110 books.
“In 2010, we published 35 books and, God willing, in in this coming year we’ll publish 40 more books. So things are really rolling.”
Is there still a big difference between the Three-Self [Government approved] Church and those in the Underground Church?
“China is huge and you hear lots of things and really everything you hear about China is true somewhere in the country,” said Wright. “In some areas, there’s really no difference between the Underground or House Churches and the government churches. They work very closely with each other and there’s not a problem. However, in other areas there’s still a lot of separation and a lot of challenges. So it really depends on the area.”
Wright added, “We believe that we, as an organization, have a 2020 vision and that vision is to say that by that year we want to see China fully resourced with legal Christian content, and what we mean by that, is no matter what province, town or village it is, by 2020, if people want Christian resources, whether it’s books or digital content, or training events, it will all be available. We’re working very hard to do that.
“We believe that there is an urgency, and that’s why we’re focusing on these next ten years because the Chinese Church is moving rapidly from a situation of persecution and poverty, to a situation of acceptance and prosperity.
“Praise God that the persecution and the tough times are [mainly] in the past and are no longer there, but one of the realities is that persecution and poverty are one of the key things that help Christians to grow and what has caused the Chinese Church to go through one of the biggest revivals we’ve ever seen.
“So, then, quickly moving into prosperity and into acceptance, that’s a dangerous thing and, particularly, because they don’t have the resources that we have in the West to help individual Christians deepen their faith and to help pastors run their churches.
“So we’re working as hard as we can over these next ten years to change that. We will appreciate all the prayers we can get so that we can do that over these next few years.”
For more information, please go to: www.zdlbooks.com
I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview