Vacationing Chinese receive Bibles
Susie Rain, Baptist Press
August 27, 2010

Vacationing Chinese receive Bibles

Vacationing Chinese receive Bibles
Susie Rain, Baptist Press
August 27, 2010


Greyhound bus hisses to a stop and the door flaps open. Ethan Gillmore

positions himself at the foot of the stairs so he can watch everyone file off.

He’s looking for someone.

The shy 10-year-old glances down at the ground, embarrassed by the fact that

his brown hair and fair skin makes him stand out in this crowd of Chinese. He

tries to make himself smaller than his 4-foot, 9-inch frame. When someone looks

his way, he tentatively holds up a red packet written in Mandarin.

A Chinese man smiles, points to his heart and then at the red packet. Ethan

stares in disbelief and then gives it to him. This is the person Ethan’s been

waiting all night on — someone who wants a Bible.

“Mom! Mom! I gave a Bible to that man,” Ethan shouts, running three steps to

his mother, Carianne Gillmore, for a high-five. “This is the BEST mission trip

ever! Quick, I need more Bibles. People need to read God’s Word.”

Ethan returns to his station next to the bus stop loaded down with Chinese Bible

packets and a new sense of confidence. This time, he throws out a few Mandarin

phrases he learned just for this volunteer mission trip to Southeast Asia with

Church at Canyon Creek from Austin, Texas.

“Free Gift. Free Bible,” he says to everyone walking past. “Jesus loves you.”

Carianne Gillmore watches her 10-year-old, amazed at the transformation from

quiet and shy to boldly sharing his faith. This is the exact reason she signed

them up for a family mission trip with three other families from their church —

to watch him grow in his walk with the Lord while experiencing a different


The Texas families took advantage of a partnership their church has with the

Southern Cross Project, a Bible distribution program in Asia. Due to Chinese

government regulations, Bibles are difficult to legally obtain in China.

However, the Chinese are allowed to bring one Bible home with them from a trip

abroad. Church at Canyon Creek normally sends two volunteer teams a year to

hand out Bibles to Chinese tourists on vacation. This is the first time for the

church to send families with children under the age of 15.

Family missions

No one planned for it to be a “family only” trip, it just turned out that the

only people signed up for the annual summer mission trip happened to be all


James Rinn says he and his wife, Kristen, started praying about taking a family

mission trip instead of a normal family vacation a couple years ago. His son,

Josh, turns 13 soon and they wanted something they could do together to mark

his approaching “manhood.”

BP photo

Trish and Courtney McCarthy, 15, pray together during a family mission trip to Southeast Asia through their church, The Church at Canyon Creek, Austin, Texas.

“Part of discipling our kids is putting God first in our own lives. When we go

on a mission trip like this, it gives our children a chance to see Mom and Dad

caring about others beyond our little community,” James Rinn says. “Mission

trips can be a fun part of a parent’s discipleship with their kids as they work


“The kids will learn and grow, as well as the parents,” James Rinn says. “Or at

least, that’s what happened with me. God used Josh to teach me a lot this week.”

Josh just shrugs and smiles. He never knew handing out Bibles could be so much

fun. To be honest, it sounded boring when his parents first told him about it.

But once Josh hands out his first Bible, he’s hooked. He and his best friend,

Colin Rasmussen, 12, work as a team to distribute more than 200 of the 750

Bibles given out by the Texas volunteers.

The young Texan even gave away his personal Bible to a homeless German man on

the side of the road. Just mentioning it brings tears to his father’s eyes, but

for Josh, it’s no big deal — after all, that’s why they took this mission trip.

“I’ve had that Bible since I was a little kid,” Josh says nonchalantly about

the Bible the “Easter Bunny” left him years ago. “We probably have 10 or so

Bibles at our house and there are people in the world who don’t even have one.

You should see people’s faces and how excited they get the first time they open

it. You’d give your Bible away, too.”

More than distribution

This “family-friendly” mission trip not only includes handing out Bibles to

Chinese tourists at night but also working with local ministries during the

day. The team hands out food at jails and slum areas. The highlight of one

afternoon is playing on the colorful playground at an orphanage.

At each site, the team takes time to pray and share about God’s love. The

parents try desperately to get one of the children to give their testimony.

Ethan is the best bet with his new, bolder personality. The translator asks him

to speak or pray with the gathered crowd but he reverts back to shyly ducking

behind his mom. However, when the food comes out for distribution, the

10-year-old forgets about hiding and is the first to give a helping hand. The

other children quickly follow suit, while fathers carry heavy packages and

mothers fan out to pray.

Elbow deep in dry rice, Ethan chats with a man working next to him. It doesn’t

matter if the man knows English or not. Ethan is set on making sure he knows

that Jesus loves him — the exact thing the adults tried to get him to do just

moments earlier.

“I can’t believe this is called ‘ministry.’ It’s so much fun,” Ethan says, his

voice raspy and tired.

The 10-year-old grabs his throat and makes a funny face. He looks at his mother

for an explanation. She gives him an affectionate “you’ve got to be kidding me”


Of course her normally quiet son is losing his voice. He spends four hours

every night yelling, “free Bibles” to Chinese tourists. Yesterday he played at

the orphanage for two hours — screaming at the top of his lungs with 70 other

children on the playground. He’s literally talked nonstop since getting off the


“I hope it comes back by tonight,” he croaks.

Carianne Gillmore studies her son for a moment. Ethan’s definitely not the same

little boy she brought to Southeast Asia. Nor is she the same. They’ve both

grown in their love for missions.

“Me, too,” the Texas mother answers. “It’s our last night and we need to tell

the Chinese that Jesus loves them.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rain is a writer for the International Mission Board

living in Southeast Asia.)

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