On an investigatory trip to Asia last month, Regional Manager Ryan Morgan stepped into the shoes of Bible smugglers, Con Dau refugees, and orphaned children rescued from Burma’s militant dictatorship.
Part One: China
I’m sitting on a sticky black leather couch in a small office space surrounded by boxes of Bibles. It is hot, hotter than I expected, and a few feet away three people I have yet to meet are snoring soundly in their bunk beds. After 19 hours of flying I’ve finally made it to my destination, and although the jet lag is doing its best to knock me unconscious, I can’t help but feel a tinge of excitement that I’m actually here. This is China, and those people sleeping soundly in the other room are Bible smugglers.
The next morning, my contacts and I pile into a crowded city bus that winds its way to an unassuming business district. The Bibles piled up at the office were just the tip of the iceberg, and here, in a dimly lit storage room I find myself staring at thousands upon thousands more, all waiting to be transported into the hands of believers across China. Every year ICC moves tens of thousands of Bibles into China, but the demand keeps growing.
The following day I become a smuggler myself, loading a suitcase full of Bibles that I pray will make it into the hands of one of my Chinese brothers and sisters who has never had one to call their own. I cannot help sweating a bit as I ignore the x-ray machine at the checkpoint and walk past a group of sullen-looking customs officials with a suitcase full of what they consider illegal contraband. The crowd is thick though, and they don’t seem to notice my “absent minded” mistake of skipping the x-ray check. I’ve made it through customs, and along with the flood of relief I’m suddenly hit with a startling realization: I live where people excitedly line up for the latest iPad while not giving a second thought to the Bible sitting on their bookshelf. And here I am, halfway around the world, being forced to quietly sneak the Book in that millions still cannot wait to get a hold of. It is a humbling realization.
Read the rest of Ryan’s journal May 1 in our free newsletter, available online and in print.