Exhibit connects US, Chinese Christians
Updated: 2011-09-29 10:54
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
WASHINGTON - An exhibition of the development of Christianity in China is now being staged to showcase the diversified life of the nation's 23 million Chinese Christians.
The exhibit, titled "A Lamp to My Feet, A Light to My Path", aimed to give an overall understanding of how the Bible was brought into China.
The event is organized by the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China.
Forty-two panels of texts and photos along with 350 individual displays including Bibles, paintings, handicraft and models give an account of Christian ministries in China.
Organizers said they hope to inform American Christians about Chinese Christians.
The exhibit as a whole focuses on how the Bible was translated, published and distributed in China. A group of Chinese Christian artists discuss the traditional Chinese culture and the significance of Christianity in China.
The event was held in Hong Kong in 2004; in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York in 2006; and finally to Germany in 2007. It is now returning to the states with stops in Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas and Charlotte.
"The Bible connects our churches," said Wang Zuo'an, minister of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs, at the opening ceremony of the exhibit on Wednesday.
"I hope more American friends can visit this exhibition and through this window of opportunity, learn more about the development of the church in China, the piety of Chinese Christians and hopefully, it will lead to greater interest in finding more truth about a colorful China," he said.
Christianity has a long history in China. Chinese people reportedly first became aware of the Bible in the early Tang Dynasty when a missionary, Olopen, came to China in 635 AD.
Currently, over 56 million copies of the Bible were printed in China by 2010, according to the CCC. China officially recognizes five religions -Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.
Wang Zuo'an said that there is still a lack of information about religion in China and that many foreigners are not informed about how religion is conducted in China.
"It will take time to know more about China but we should go out and make efforts to let others understand us," he said Wednesday.
Wang said he met with senior officials at the White House and the State Department to promote more communication between the two countries on religious affairs.
Rev Michael Kinnamon, general secretary with the National Council of Churches of Christ USA said this exhibition will come as a "real surprise" to many Christians in the country.
"I can imagine there are many Christians in this country who would say 'I didn't know there were Christians at all in China,'" he said. "People still have a lot of misunderstanding about both countries in both places. So this exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to tear down those misunderstandings and show a different face of China."
Geoff Tunnicliffe from the World Evangelical Alliance said he has been to China a number of times and praised the development of religious freedom in the past three decades.
"In the past 30 years, there has been significant development in the whole area of religious freedom," he said.
As the Bible is central to Christians and Evangelicals, he said, showing its influence and development in China is important to American Christians.
What impressed him most at the exhibition is how Chinese Christians handwrote the Bible from memory during challenging times.
Missie H. Dowey, of Irmo, South Carolina, said the exhibit "brings China to life here in the US, shows us all the things and opportunities going on there in a very crispy and beautiful way".