Stories from the Global Church

Here you will find stories from the global church by ELCA global missionaries, scholars, and churchwide staff, brought to you by the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship team.

80 Million Bibles for China

Posted on December 3, 2010 by Franklin Ishida
Amity Bible printing

Millions of Bibles come off the press each year in Shanghai

The Amity Printing Company (APC), located in Shanghai, China, recently celebrated the printing of its 80 millionth Bible.  The event highlighted the importance of the Amity Foundation’s continuing Christian vision and values. This event also marks an important occasion, as the APC has scaled up their operations in the last 3 years, printing 10 million copies of the Bible for domestic and international churches each year.

The official speeches focused on the importance of the cooperation between international and national churches in making this occasion possible. Mr Qiu Zhonghui, the Amity Foundation’s General Secretary, introduced the event and highlighted three important services supplied through the APC. These included increasing the cooperation between the Chinese Church and Christian society in China with the objective of printing Bibles, involving international churches in the Chinese Christian movement and reaching the Chinese population with the Bible’s and the Amity Foundation’s message of love and charity.

International partners highlighted the historical background for the APC and the connection to the TSPM, with the representative for the United Bible Societies commenting that ” all of us today are celebrating a miracle”. The APC therefore demonstrates the importance of faith acting out love both through practical and spiritual nourishment and knowledge.

APC was founded in 1987 as a joint venture between the Amity Foundation, an independent Chinese voluntary organization, and the United Bible Societies. It is the world’s largest Bible printer and 75% of the Bibles Amity prints annually is sold inside China. Most are in Mandarin, but editions  in several ethnic minority languages are produced as well as a paralel Chinese-English version.  In addition, APC produces Bibles in other languages for export. Domestic Bibles retail for as low as $1.20.

Early in the history of APC, the ELCA had provided funding for the purchase of paper. Paper of the appropriate quality for Bibles was not available at the time in China and had to be imported from abroad at a higher cost. Since then, APC has spearheaded efforts to produce better quality paper domestically in China, thus reducing the APC’s reliance on outside assistance.

(Parts of this entry were taken from news from the Amity Foundation.)

A Faith borne out of persecution

Posted on March 25, 2010 by Franklin Ishida
Zhao Qin-

Pastor Zhao Qin-lin

When Zhao Qin-lin was young, he remembers his grandfather singing a song. The lullaby-like song that Zhao remembers, “Jesus protects us … ,” had to be sung late in the evening, after his grandfather had spent many hours in the fields during the day, because of fear of persecution. This was during the Cultural Revolution in China, the period between 1966 and 1976 during which there as widespread social and political upheaval in China; a time when, in addition to the persecution of anyone suspected of harboring anti-socialist ideas, religions were persecuted, churches closed and Bibles destroyed.

“My grandfather would take the Bible and put it in a clay jar and bury it,” recalls Zhao. That was the only way to hold on to this treasure of their faith in a time of great upheaval.

Now, years later, Zhao serves as one of the pastors of Luzhou City Church in southeastern Sichuan province. As a Miao ethnic minority, he often heads into the mountains to trek among the Miao congregations that are a part of the Luzhou parish. This is all possible because of the flourishing ministry of this parish that counts somewhere between 28,000 and 30,000 members in four congregations, 15 preaching points, and 53 home gatherings.

The ELCA works closely with Luzhou church, assisting with social ministry projects, health care ministries, grassroots leadership training, and rural development. Among the Miao, in particular, irrigation ditches have been built to allow crops to be grown higher up on the slopes of valleys; library books  provided to isolated schools; and one new church built.

Y. Franklin Ishida
Director for Asia and the Pacific, ELCA Global Mission

Church training gives hope

Posted on March 4, 2010 by Franklin Ishida
Li Zhi-hwa, student at the training center in Lijan, Yunnan, China

Li Zhi-hwa during a break from classes

Zhi-hwa is eighteen. Though she has her whole life before her, she already has a number of things going against her: She lives in the Lijiang area of Yunnan Province, one of the poorest parts of China; her family could not afford to have her continue her education; and she comes from an ethnic minority,  which often brings discrimination in the wider society.

Though she didn’t even finish high school, her faith and dedication, plus the support of her church, has led her to get further training as a lay worker in the church.

The grassroots training center in Lijiang is a ministry that reaches out to the numerous ethnic minorities in this northwestern part of Yunnan Province, including the Lisu, Pumi, Dai, Naxi, and Yi peoples. Some, like Zhi-hwa, travel as far as three hours from their home villages to receive training. Most of the time, the training classes run at least several days, and a dorm is provided for those who travel far. Classes range from literacy to music to Bible. The “cream” of training programs is one that develops evangelists, running 5 months each year for three years. Some 20 students are enrolled in this.

Meanwhile, for Zhi-hwa, getting church training is a way she can deepen her faith and learn how to better serve her community and church. She can now live with hope in her future and for this she gives thanks to the church. And perhaps, this all may be the best education she has ever received.

Y. Franklin Ishida
Director for Asia and the Pacific, ELCA Global Mission

One new life is God’s grace

Posted on August 24, 2009 by Franklin Ishida
Baby Chen En, held by Pr. Liao, her mother standing behind, and surrounded by hospital staff

Baby Chen En, held by Pr. Liao, her mother standing behind, and surrounded by hospital staff

Luzhou City Parish in southeastern Sichuan Province, China, has been at the forefront of holistic care for the community. One way in which it does this is through health care. In addition to its own community health clinic, located next to the main church, and outreach health functions, it cooperates with Luzhou Hospital. ELCA funds have assisted Luzhou Church in providing care for those living in poverty as well as directly funding neonatal care instruments at the hospital. 

Recently, a couple gave birth to a child with special medical needs. But they used up all their money for the early medical expenses and decided to take the baby home. But everyone knew the baby could not survive once back at the village. 

Luzhou Church staff made it possible for the baby to remain in the hospital and her life was saved. Pastor Liao named the child Chen En (En means grace in Chinese) to express thanks to God. Now, Chen En has been discharged, a more healthy child.

Y. Franklin Ishida
Director for Asia and the Pacific, ELCA Global Mission

These books are treasures to us

Posted on June 13, 2009 by Franklin Ishida

img_1879-793494“On behalf of all the teachers and students, I thank you for bringing new hope and reading opportunities with these many great books. We have learned and gained new knowledge: how to be a person, how to study, how we can be kind and have a good heart for all people and things.

“The stories I read are all very fascinating, moving and real. Some make me think, often rousing up my imagination, and I wish I could write as well. For many years, we have not had books like this. We did not write well. However, now that we can read so many books, we have much higher standards in writing skills.

“I remember a quote from one of the books: Reading is the best knowledge. I also learned from my teachers that we must study each story carefully to sense the emotions of the authors. After I understood this, I have done just that – to read with care.

“These books are treasures to us, for the contents are precious and there is much to learn. It is an ocean of knowledge. We must read more so as to know that they contain true wealth and beauty.

“Thank you, for you have brought hope and happiness to us. Every time we see these books, we not only see them as books, but your lasting care and support.”

img_1927-700413“–Speech given by Zhao-Ling, 6th grader at Ju-Xian Elementary School in the mountains above Gulin, southeastern Sichuan Province. With the assistance of the ELCA, Luzhou Christian Church (Sichuan) purchased library books for this village school. Most of the students are of the Miao ethnic group, and many are Christian.

–As heard by and submitted by Y. Franklin Ishida, Director for Asia and the Pacific, ELCA Global Mission

An unfolding Pentecost story

Posted on May 27, 2009 by admin

smdsc0077-741305Xiao (Nicole) and Annie, two only daughters of the same age, met in the Summer of 2002 in Chuzhou, China. Annie was one of four Global Mission/Amity volunteers working in Chuzhou with Chinese teachers of English; Nicole served as the team’s translator.

The Spirit is at work in both of their lives, growing what was planted that summer. Annie, on the path toward ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is about to conclude her Global Mission/Horizon International Internship with the Bratislava International Church, and about to start a year of residency as a chaplain at Advocate Lutheran General/St. Matthew Center for Health (Park Ridge, Illinois). Nicole graduated with an MBA from Michigan State University on May 8, and was baptized at St. Luke’s Lutheran (Park Ridge, Illinois) on May 10. In September, she will begin her new position with Terex Corporation in Westport, Connecticut.

I am blessed beyond measure by both of these spirited and spirit-led young women, one who calls me “Mommy” and the other who calls me “Mama Sue.”
Sue Edison-Swift