An increasing number of people outside of churches on the mainland are learning about Christianity, Honorary Chairman of the China Christian Council Bishop Ding Guangxun told church leaders Sunday at a reception for representatives of various overseas Christian communities.
"From the good deeds of churches in China and the good work of Christians, they (outside the church) can witness that Chinese Christians enjoy religious freedom, and the Christian Church in this country is an independent and self-governed church that has special insights into theological reflection," he said.
Ding, who is also vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, stressed the importance of a closer relationship between Chinese and overseas churches.
"We are grateful for all the help we have received from Christians in other countries, and as a result of these efforts, we are able to do more work in China.
"I really appreciate that you, the old and new friends of the churches in China, are able to come to this exhibition of the Bible ministry," he told members of the ecumenical gathering.
"Your presence will promote rich and harmonious relationships between the churches in China and overseas based on the principles of mutual respect and equal partnership."
President of the China Christian Council Reverend Cao Shengjie said the purpose of the exhibition was to "share God's wonderful grace upon the churches in China and the devout faith of Chinese Christians to the Bible".
Cao also stressed that churches in China are fully capable of running their own operations.
"We abide with the three-self principle, yet this principle does not mean isolation and exclusiveness. We welcome more exchanges of ideas and will explore more possibilities in co-operation."
Cao revealed that the China Christian Council intends to hold similar exhibitions in other parts of the world if invited.
Meanwhile, first-day visitors to the exhibition said it provides an opportunity for local citizens to learn more about the development of Christianity in China.
Chan Man-kit, a devout Christian and churchgoer, believes that the Exhibition of Bible Ministry of Churches in China will strengthen Christian faith in the territory and encourage positive exchanges between Christians in Hong Kong and the mainland.
"I never knew that the Bible was so widely published and used on the mainland," he added.
Sharon To, who was born into a Christian family, said she is glad to see encouraging developments in the mainland's Christian community.
"This exhibition has opened my eyes to the history of Christian faith and the spread of God's love in China."
Insurance salesman John Tang, who is an atheist, said he was awed by the biblical exhibits at the event.
"The exhibits were marvelous, especially the imperial edition of the New Testament, which has great historical significance."
(China Daily August 9, 2004)