Five for Friday is an occasional interview series on the WHI blog that features Reformation pacesetters: those who are actively bringing Reformation into their own circles. In this edition, we’re talking to the people behind the Robert Morrison Project, a nonprofit publishing enterprise dedicated to legal publication of Christian books in China.
What is the Robert Morrison Project?
Starting about ten years ago it became possible to legally publish some forms of Christian literature in China. Slowly, over the past few years, more and more titles entered legal circulation. The door is not completely open but it is cracked open and some good quality Reformed titles are being published and distributed in China. Most amazing of all, the genres of literature that the government has been allowing to be published are the very genres that Reformed publishers have been focusing on for the past 50+ years. In recent years the government has been allowing biographies, old books with historical value (e.g. Pilgrim’s Progress), and marriage and family books to be published. Soli Deo Gloria, Evangelical Press, and especially the Banner of Truth, are all extremely strong in these areas and have a large number of titles that have a good chance of passing government censorship. With the church in China approaching 100 million members and growing at 9% a year and with a very small number of Christian titles in legal circulation, this is an opportunity that we can not ignore. Currently, neither the local church nor the Chinese Christian publishing companies are able to self finance high quality translations in large numbers. In most cases, foreign funding is required. The purpose of the Robert Morrison Project is to raise funds to help lay the foundation for the long term, legal presence of Reformed literature in China.
What sorts of books are at the top of your list to be published?
Biographies and old literature with historical value from the Banner of Truth, Solid Ground Books, Evangelical Press, etc. all show great promise in China. We will also seek to publish local Chinese authors. All titles have been reviewed by an editorial team in China to evaluate whether or not they can pass government censorship.
What effect has the Project already had in China?
The Robert Morrison Project is only two months old. So far we have not raised sufficient funds to finance our first title but we hope to do so in the near future.
What are your long term goals?
The English language is highly, highly saturated with quality Reformed literature. There are approximately 35 reformed publishers in the US and UK publishing books in English. In China, however, there is a massive publishing vacuum of Christian literature. Our initial goal over the next five to ten years is rectify this publishing imbalance by translating and publishing 50 titles in China. By publishing these titles we will be increasing the total number of Christian books in circulation by approximately 12%. Another goal is to respond to the heretical literature now in print. Currently, few titles are available to answer these authors. Looking even further down the road, our goal is to establish independent, financially self-sufficient Reformed publishing companies in China and Asia.
How can people get involved?
There are many things that people can do. Most important of all, please pray! Publishing a Christian book in China is often a very long, difficult process. Typically, it takes 6 to 24 for months for a title to pass government censorship and sometimes the approval process can be rather arbitrary. Pray that God would open the door for more Reformed titles to be published. Tell your friends about us! Place a link on your church or organization website to our website. Finally, please consider making a monthly donation to this Project (we have 501(c)3 tax exempt status). Including us in your church or family budget would be a big help. Income on a monthly basis will help us set long term publishing goals.