Celebrations are planned in China to mark the production of more than 50 million Bibles in the People's Republic by the Amity Printing Company, a joint venture between the United Bible Societies and the Amity Foundation, which is a Chinese Christian agency - writes Francis Wong.
"After the cultural revolution of 1966 to 1976, many Chinese Christians are doing their best to take the chance to read the Bible," Qiu Zhonghui, general secretary of the Amity Foundation, has told Ecumenical News International.
The celebrations planned in the city of Nanjing for 8 December 2007 will mark the production on 11 September 2007 of the 50 millionth Bible by the Amity Printing Company, the only body allowed to print Bibles in mainland China.
Zhang Liwei, the Amity Foundation's associate general secretary, told ENI the events would "celebrate the miracle that God makes it possible in China to print these millions of copies of the Bible for Chinese Christians".
Beijing loosened restrictions on Christians in the 1970s following the end of the cultural revolution, after the death of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic of China.
Nevertheless, the Chinese government still tightly controls Christianity in the country.
At the 8 December celebrations, the Amity Foundation will renew its agreement with the United Bible Societies, which groups Bible societies around the world.
"We have been cooperating with the United Bible Societies during the last twenty years in printing Bibles in China," said Qiu, who is also chairperson of the Amity Printing Company.
The joint venture began work in June 1988 and by September 1989 had produced one million Bibles. By the end of October 2007, it had printed more than 59 million Bibles and copies of the New Testament.
Qiu said that the printing company was ready to produce more copies of the Scriptures in time for the Olympic Games to be held in Beijing next year.
"The Amity Printing Company is well prepared to give assistance, at the request of the church in China, to print copies of the Bible for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008," he said.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]