Dear Friends, today, I have more Christian fiction for you: “Real Danger,” a short story. In America, there’s no real danger of carrying a Bible. Yet, some people are ashamed to carry their Bibles, or it’s inconvenient to keep them at hand.
The following story shares what lengths a man in China goes to just to preserve the purity of God’s Word—as well as share the great need they have for Bibles. Often, the Chinese government tells the West that there is no more need of Bibles in China, but this is all propaganda. The underground house churches that don’t submit to the false teachings of the Three Self Patriotic Communist Church, continue to ask for more Bibles to be sent to them in careful ways. (Are you familiar with Vision Beyond Borders?)
I pray this story causes each of us to reflect on how we think of our own Bibles in the West.—David Telbat
by D.I. Telbat
Jacob Lee closed the window curtains in his two-bedroom apartment in Eastern China. He turned off his phone and locked the front door. When he was certain his home was secure, he turned out the lights at the same time he did any other night. Except he wasn’t going to bed on this night.
In the darkness, Jacob sat on the edge of his bed and prayed. This was his ritual once a month. Being a Christian wasn’t popular within the Chinese government, especially as a clerk for the Minister of Labor. And even more risky was the prospect of distributing Bibles in China, but Jacob couldn’t imagine others burdening the danger without him. God’s Word had to be shared!
Around midnight, he rose and went into the small living room. Without moving the curtains, he peered through precisely-cut holes in the fabric. From one curtain hole, he could see the street outside to the north, two stories down. From another hole, he could see to the south. The bathroom curtain hole allowed him to see most of the alley below. If the police were out there, they were using more sinister methods than Jacob knew.
Finally satisfied he wasn’t likely to be hosting a police raid right away, he drew a screwdriver from a toolbox in a closet and went into his guest bedroom. The room had once been used by his ailing father, but he’d passed away two years earlier.
Kneeling against the outside wall panel, Jacob fit the screwdriver into a screw and turned it slowly, not wanting to make any noise for the neighbors. Many informants occupied China.
After removing four screws, the panel came away without a sound. Straining, he lifted a heavy plywood box from the wall space and set it on the floor. The box was filled with Bibles and other study books that were discouraged by the Communist Party.
Jacob stacked the literature onto the floor, then replaced the empty box in the wall. Above the container, his fingers traced the bottom of the book shoot that deposited materials into the box throughout month. The shoot drop originated two floors above, in the apartment hallway. Christians who wanted to contribute to the distribution of Bibles could do so secretly from the corridor. No one knew that those books and Bibles slid down into his apartment hiding place.
But not everything that came down the shoot could be distributed. Using a pen light, Jacob analyzed each book. The Communist Party generally altered and reprinted Bibles with certain changed texts to favor anti-Christ and anti-God ideas. Some house church believers didn’t know the difference, so they sometimes donated the dangerous material accidentally. However, to remain true to God’s Word, Jacob was careful to preserve only those Bibles that were genuinely unchanged. He’d memorized the true passages that were usually altered, so he needed only to read those sections to check each Bible.
With the wall panel back in place, and the Bibles screened, Jacob divided the accurate Bibles and textbooks into three identical backpacks to distribute to three different underground church contacts. He would do so by bicycle the following day on the way to work. It was the most dangerous part of the process. If he were caught distributing Bibles, he’d be arrested and tortured to reveal his contacts!
He placed the backpacks by the front door, then checked the curtain holes once more. No suspicious vehicles. No curious, midnight strollers or joggers. Now, it was time for waiting.
Back in his bedroom, Jacob sat and prayed. The burden he carried for Christ was heavy, sometimes. He even put aside getting married until it was safer to share his secret ministry with a faithful wife he could trust.
As advanced as China was becoming socially and technically, it was still dangerous to be a Christian. He hoped others were praying for him to remain courageous, even if they didn’t know the details of all the risks he and others took for Jesus. But someone had to do it. The truth contained inside the Bible was worth every risk!
The End of “Real Danger,” a Short Story.
Learn more about how you can help get Bibles into closed countries with Vision Beyond Borders. And read more about serving the Chinese Church through the Back to Jerusalem Ministry here. Read this VOM article about North Korea here.
Prayer Prompt: Please pray for David Telbat’s safety. Much of his ministry is in the prison system. Sometimes it is especially dangerous for God’s servants because God is making great headway in Satan’s domain. Thank you.
COMING UP: Join us next time for a review by D.I. Telbat on another favorite novel, Fear Has a Name: The Crittendon Files by Creston Mapes.