This year, the 150 millionth Bible was printed in China. The world’s largest Bible printing company is Amity Printing Company, a joint venture between the Amity Foundation, a Chinese charity, and the United Bible Societies.
Bibles are being printed in China faster and faster. After the first Bible came off the production line in 1987, it took 20 years for the first 50 million copies of the Bible to be produced. But from 2007, it took just 5 years to print the second round of 50 million copies. The next 50 million copies took an even shorter amount of time – three years (2013-2016).
In 2015 alone, Amity Printing ran off 13.86 million copies of the Bible, which is a record amount. In June 2016, the monthly output of Bibles (with both hard-cover and paper-back binding) exceeded two million copies. That’s also a new record.
Amity produces Bibles for export and for the local churches in China. According to the Amity website, just under half of the Bibles produced by Amity have been for export.
In Nanjing, one of China’s booming cities, Amity Press occupies a large six-year-old factory about the size of two AFL ovals. Six hundred staff print, bind, and ship Bibles and Hymnals.
Bible Society Australia has supported Amity from the start. Australian donations subsidise the cost of the special paper used to print Bibles, making God’s word affordable for people who live in the rural areas of China. About 2.5 million Bibles are being printed using subsidised paper. In 2015, more than 460,000 Chinese people received their own copy of the Bible, but there are many more who still do not have access to God’s precious Word.
This writer was present when Amity celebrated its 100 millionth Bible in 2012. “We participate in Bible printing as a witness to the truth of John 14:6,” Rev An Xinyi, the chairman of the Jiangsu Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Movement* (TSPM) told a thanksgiving service at the printing plant. TSPM is the co-ordinating body of the officially-recognised protestant church in China.
“The Truth can stand a long test.”
“In the early church, we saw that rightly handling of the word of God led to revival,” An said. “In Acts, we see that the churches that depended on the word of God grew. Today’s challenge is all about handling the word of God.”
* The ‘Three-Self’ title is based on the missionary principles, “self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation” first put forward by Henry Venn of the Church Missionary Society in the nineteenth century.