We have just returned from visiting the churches in Shandong Province. Due to the rapid spread of the Gospel many years ago, these areas are like others where there is a large shortage of Bibles. A Christian brother in the region discovered that East Gates was providing Bibles everywhere in China so he quickly contacted us and since then, the shortage has been reduced. He has continued to maintain contact with us and we have a good relationship established.
At present, the brothers and sisters in this area have preached the gospel to all the surrounding counties. They now have 200 meeting points and 115 co-workers that serve full-time. It's a huge expense to keep up with the everyday needs of these meeting points as well as the living expenses for the full-time 115 co-workers and their families but all of them have tremendous faith in God and continue to work with one heart. There is a great revival for the Gospel here!
One morning, we met with our brothers and sisters from the surrounding counties. In the afternoon, we were invited to visit several meeting points and one training class. The training class was held in the house of an old couple. One of the bedrooms was used for one of the classrooms. The conditions were very simple. We met with the training class teachers in the evening and we could not believe what they shared with us. All of them were very young in age and inexperienced yet had to shoulder the majority of the training work in their own areas. If it were not for the help of God and the Holy Spirit, we could not imagine them carrying such heavy burdens. We discussed with them the possibility of setting up a library and providing their teachers with good training materials.
By invitation from an elder, we went back to the southern and more poor area of Shandong Province to visit our brothers and sisters there. The elder told us his meeting point is the headquarters for the meeting points in the area. In 1998, we gave them RMB10,000 (US$1220) to help them get started. They spent RMB3500 ($425) to buy a three-room house and used RMB6500 ($795) to build a meeting point in a village several miles away.
The difficulty they face right now is the landlord would like to sell the house that is connected to this meeting point. If non-believers purchase this house, they feel it would affect their ability to worship since they have to share the same compound. Right now, the best solution would be for them to buy the adjoining house. They're hoping we can gift them RMB6000 ($732). They would use RMB3500 ($425) to buy the house and the remaining balance would be used to renovate the roof and interior.
We went inside the meeting point they built two years ago and it's amazing what a beautiful house they have been able to build for only RMB6500 ($795). Our brothers and sisters have put so much labor, time and personal resources into making it a wonderful facility. We were so pleased with what we saw and very encouraged to be able to help them get started.
The local elder has been very responsible with the Bibles and other literature we've sent to him over these many years. The church members are able to borrow and return the books to him. He keeps and manages the books well. With what we've entrusted him with, he's been faithful. He greatly values the bicycle we sent him!