More to be desired are they than gold............ sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Psalms 19:10 ESV
Dark clouds fill the sky overhead, you watch the spray battering the water proof covering you are under, it is your window to the heavens. Whether the spray is rain from above or just the ocean washing over the barge you can’t tell. You do know they said it would be a clear and calm crossing, they were wrong. It is cold and cloudy. The waves continuously batter your vessel, each day has been the same. You huddle with the others that are traveling with you, boxed in like sardines on their way to the market. The excitement you had originally felt about this journey has now turned to disquiet.
You know you are desperately needed, but you also know if they find you, they will dispose of you and the others like you. It has only been four years since they stopped trying to crush everything you stand for. However even though they allow some of your beliefs, the majority are subdued, twisted and governed with an iron fist. You are destined to join with those who hide underground; those who seek the truth, you and the others will teach them, encourage them and strengthen them. You will comfort them in times of unrest and guide them in times of uncertainty.
You can feel the Michael slow; she is a 97 ft. tugboat. There are 20 volunteer crew members on board, they come from many different countries; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the UK and the US. They’ve all come together, to help you and the others get safely to your new home.
All is quiet on deck now, there is no talking and no lights are allowed to burn. Finally you’re getting close to your destination.
You think back to the preparation of this trip. You and the others were picked especially. You were checked and gathered together with the others like you. Then you waited patiently in Hong Kong for all the crew to arrive, only then did you and the others board the 137 ft. submersible barge. It had been custom built especially for your trip. They made sure you were all safely covered against the elements, and then they began the 200 mile trek from Hong Kong to your destination.
At a lumbering speed of only 3 knots the Michael wove through a maze of anchored navy ships near the port city, you watched ever alert for any sign that they had seen you, so far so good. It was nearing 9 pm when the Michael approached the beach near Swatow. The barge was partially submerged, so it would allow you and the others to disembark. Believers wade out into the water to help, you watch as the others before you leave the barge and are helped to the shore. It was slow going, because of how many of you there were. There are believers on the beach waiting to hide you and the others. They take them to the tree line and hide them among the trees, until all of you are off the barge. Believers come back to help more of you. You are one of the last to disembark; you wait almost two hours for your turn. But right before you are to disembark the barge, a naval ship comes into view. You plummet into the water when the engines of the Michael start up and the boat swiftly flees the area. Bobbing to the surface you watch as a few of the others are dragged out to sea. You struggle to stay above the waves, you fear for the others that are floating away. Fortunately a few brave believers see the peril you are in. They ran into the water and save as many of you as they can. They hide with you till the navy vessel leaves following the Michael out into the open waters. You send up a prayer for the crew, knowing they will receive terrible punishment if caught inside this closed nation.
You and the others are taken to a safe place and to clean up and dry. There is no time to rest though, you must get to safety or you won’t be able to fulfill your calling. All of you are sorted for the journey. Each of you has a different destination to go to. Your destination is to travel overland across this country to a small village, high in a mountainous region. The believers have many forms of transportation, you watch as others leave by bike, or car and some by motorcycle. You wish the others safe passage. Then you are taken by van to a secret depository and there you wait again with some of the others until you are collected. After several days, three men come for you and your companions; the journey is long and treacherous. Several of you are traveling to the same rural village. Part of the way you travel in a boxcar, another part by bus, the last part is by donkey. You pass through a small village and your guides are arrested for contraband. The Authorities look on you with contempt and disgust; they throw you and your companions into the deep cesspool of the public latrine.
You lay in the filth, shaken and disheartened, you will never be able to get out of there on your own. How could anyone be so cruel? You don’t converse with the others, they don’t converse with you, all of you are lost in your own separate sorrows. What was there to say anyway? You all knew there would be risks, you knew that the authorities would destroy you if you were found. You try to glimpse the heavens through to waste.
You cry out in sorrow, you weren’t able to help those in need. You weren’t able to show the people the love that you know. You have failed, your misery is absolute.
For two days you and the others wallow in self pity, but then the guides are back. They crawl down into the foul smelling hole and get all of you out. They take the time to rinse you and your companions off, even though they had been ordered to return to their homes immediately. The water does little to remove your stench. Once you arrive at the home of the guide, there is water for cleaning again. You are gratefully drenched perfume for the lingering stench of the cesspool.
Your guides were some of the fortunate ones, they only spent a weekend in jail. However many who helped others like you, paid dearly, some were thrown in prison, some were interrogated and tortured, some lost their lives. Persecution was a hazard they knew well. Most of you reached your destinations, but some of you went through trials to get there. Some were found still hiding among the trees near the beach by the authorities. They tried unsuccessfully to destroy them, they tried burning them but when they didn’t burn they tossed them into the sea in frustration. The ones you saw floating away were rescued by fisherman the next morning. They also saved the others tossed into the sea.
Out of the million bibles that were smuggled into China that dark night of June 18th, 1980, most, if not all of you landed into the hands of the believers you were meant for. Some of you were referred to by the names of your trials. Such as the Wet Bibles, that had been saved from the sea and of the thousand thrown into the cesspool with you, they became known as the Perfumed Bibles. All of you were needed; all of you were crucial, you were the gifts of Project Pearl.
Even after almost 40 years, you are still cherished by the woman to whom you were given, like her, you are now old, your pages are tattered and worn from continuous reading, and the letters on your cover is so faded you can barely see the words ‘HOLY BIBLE’. But you did fulfilled your calling; you taught new believers, you encouraged them in troubled times, you strengthened them when they needed strength and you comforted them in sorrow and you guided them along the path of life. Because between your covers is what every man, woman and child needs and longs for, the message, the Word of God, letting all know his plan for their salvation.
For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV