SOUTHEAST ASIA (BP)--The bus screeches to a stop and Chinese tourists pile out in a single-file line after the door hisses open.
Crystal Houston, venturing to Asia from Munord Baptist Church in Atoka, Tenn., nudges closer and closer until she's in their walking path. She holds up a red packet filled with a Mandarin Bible and Christian literature. At first, everyone walks past her. She scoots closer to the bus until, finally, a woman reaches out and takes the packet. When she realizes it's a Bible, the Chinese woman bows and thanks her.
"Wow! That's exciting," Houston says, noting that she probably has four or five Bibles of her own but this Chinese woman probably had none. "Handing out that first Bible just makes you want to keep doing it. Let's get to work!"
More than 50 volunteers from six states and two countries are handing out Bibles this week through the Chinese Bible distribution ministry in Asia called Southern Cross Project. Their volunteer efforts are part of a special emphasis surrounding the two-week Chinese New Year celebrations. Chinese New Year is Thursday, Feb. 3. (Follow their work on the live blog www.mreport.org until Feb. 8.)
FIRST NIGHT FULL OF SURPRISES
More than 500 Bibles were given out the first night, Jan. 29, of the Southern Cross distribution. The current Bible count stands at more than 2,000.
Michael Berkley's heart broke when a young Chinese woman tried to get a Bible, but an older woman jerked her arm away. The pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Henning, Tenn., says the woman came back to him but another person pushed her away.
"Her face will be etched in my brain for a long time," Berkley said. "She wanted a Bible, but no one would let her take one. I'm praying she'll be able to get a Bible at one of the other Southern Cross distribution sites."
Across town, Chinese tourists exit dinner boats and pass the distribution spot. One Chinese man stops to talk to Lily Wang*, a Chinese woman volunteering alongside the Americans. Wang falls in step with him as a tour guide ushers him back into the line to the waiting bus.
"I've been reading the Bible for 15 years," the man says. "I want to be baptized, but I'm a sinner."
Wang explains that Jesus died for his sins. He immediately asks to pray, receiving Jesus in his heart. The entire interaction happens in the few minutes between walking from the boat to the bus. As the man's bus pulls out, he presses against the window and waves to the volunteers.
Then, he declares, "I'm finally ready to be baptized."
WORKING THE WAREHOUSE
Stacks of books and Christian tracts piled high on the table wobble as Paul Cox leans over to greet a fellow Southern Cross Project volunteer. They lament over how the warehouse is the "boring" job on this trip but quickly add that it is one of the most important. Read More