Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Smuggling Illegal Bibles to China in the 1980's

In the late 1980's, a co-worker and I were asked to accompany 30 other missionaries in the Philippines to China to carry the largest shipment of Bibles ever smuggled into that country at one time.

We were divided into 10 teams of three, carrying small and large pieces of luggage with few or many Bibles. I was asked to carry the largest piece which was a trunk filled with Bibles weighing up to 175 pounds!

I ended up being the last one through customs where a young female official examined my passport and visa. She looked at the large trunk which I had to noisily roll across the floor and asked, "What is in that large trunk?"

Not wanting to answer I simply said, "Warm day today, isn't it?" She said yes and asked me again to open the trunk, but instead I nervously said, "That is a nice uniform you have on. Is it provided by the government?" Smiling and thanking me, she confirmed that her uniform was provided by the government and then repeated, "Would you please open the trunk?"

Now I was sweating since I was surrounded by several other customs officials. What could I say? "Please Lord, give me wisdom as these Bibles are desperately needed by the underground church in China!" was my prayer.

So I said, "You have a very important responsibility for one so young." She seemed to enjoy the compliment but repeated her request, "Sir, would you please open the trunk!" Even today, over 30 years later I am surprised by my response. When she asked me this third time to open the trunk, which would have exposed the precious cargo of Bibles resulting in their confiscation, I reached out and took my passport and papers from her hand and politely said, "It has been so nice to talk to you, but I need to leave now."

Then I turned and started to push (roll) the trunk to leave but the wheels collapsed under the heavy weight of the Bibles! Panicking, I quickly grabbed the handle to pick up the trunk, but the handle also came off because of the weight.

By now I was surrounded by customs officials. This is amazing, but even though everything seemed to be going wrong, not one official stopped me. I then grabbed a small metal hook, which had connected the handle, between my thumb and finger, picked up the heavy trunk, and calmly walked out the door as if I was carrying a small bag!

The Lord be praised as He helped a frightened inexperienced smuggler deliver needed Bibles to the church in China to the glory of His name!

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