Web of grace

"Web of grace" Continued...

Issue: "2012: The Year Ahead," Jan. 14, 2012

Many young Chinese-45 percent of the younger generation aged 15 to 24 in urban cities-are spending their time on Weibo, China's main social media platform. The microblogging site, which is similar to a combination of Facebook and Twitter, has over 250 million users. "It's the closest thing China has to a public square," the consultant said. "It makes the government nervous. If the government wanted a revolution, it would just have to shut down Weibo." Christians have a presence on the site: Chinese pastors, Christian publishers, and openly Christian actors all have their own accounts and followers.

Desiring God started a JohnPiperQuotes account on Weibo in May. JohnPiperQuotes posts some of the translated material from the site and also some English sentences from Piper's Twitter. As of mid-October, the account had 1,400 followers from every province and municipality in China including Tibet and Xinjian. The team found that the followers included ordinary young people, Three-Self and house churches pastors, and even famous actors.

Numbers victory

Last month Desiring God's Bill Walsh received the 13 digits he had spent years waiting for-the Chinese government-issued ISBN number that will allow Desiring God to sell John Piper's Legacy of Sovereign Joy to anyone, anywhere, in any quantity in China.

The book, which chronicles the lives of Augustine, John Calvin, and Martin Luther, is Piper's first book to be legally published in China. Walsh said Desiring God chose it because "a book about the history of the church seemed to have a lower bar to get over to get a legal ISBN, yet there is also theological content." He also noted that other biographies on these men have already been published in China.

In the past decade, China has become more open to publishing Christian content, with over 200 Christian bookstores opening up throughout the country. As of earlier this year, the total number of Christian books in legal circulation was about 600, with 50 to 60 new books added each year.

Walsh started dreaming about publishing a book in China on his first trip to the country in 2007. In subsequent visits, he started building a relationship with ZDL, a Christian publishing house, in order to make the dream a reality. The biggest obstacle was to obtain an ISBN number for the book, since books with foreign ISBN numbers cannot be published legally in China: Each book needed a specific government-issued ISBN. Desiring God worked with ZDL to translate the book, and after several years of prayer and work finally received an ISBN number. The Chinese translation of The Legacy of Sovereign Joy is available in China this month.

"We are trying to take resources and use those to equip Christians globally, especially the leaders who are lacking in theological training," Walsh said. - Angela Lu

Angela Lu
Angela Lu

Angela is a reporter for WORLD Magazine who lives and works in Taiwan. She enjoys cooking, reading, and storytelling. Follow Angela on Twitter @angela818.


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