Based on the outline structure of STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM, this daily devotional plan features a short Scripture reference and reading plus a story "from the field" where Christians are persecuted for their faith. Each concludes with an action item and a prayer.
One for every day of the year! See my Facebook page for daily samples.
TIME magazine called it “The largest operation of its kind in the history of China.” But for me, June 18, 1981 was simply the most exciting day of my life! I was one of twenty men who delivered one million Chinese Bibles in one night. It was called Project Pearl.
Our one hundred‑foot miracle tugboat, Michael, lumbered along at the sleepy speed of three knots. It towed the semi‑submersible barge, Gabriella, loaded with 232 tons of Chinese Bibles.
As we headed due west toward the coast of China that afternoon, the sunset was one of the most beautiful I can remember—the sea proverbially as smooth as glass.
By nine o’clock we were weaving our way in the dark through a maze of anchored Chinese navy ships. When we arrived at the pre‑appointed beach, there were thousands of local Christians waiting in the darkness.
The cardboard boxes of Bibles were waterproofed in 232 one‑ton blocks that could float. We towed them with small rubber boats towards the shore. The Chinese believers came out in the water—some up to their neck. We threw them the lines and they pulled the blocks up onto the beach. They cut them open with shears and handed the boxes of Bibles to one another up the sand to the tree‑line.
Two hours later, we left with one million Bibles in the care of Chinese believers. They promised to circulate them across the entire country. In some cases, that process took five years.
But what I now remember most is not just that evening of delivery. Those two hours were also the fastest of my life. What I will never forget is the commitment and sacrifice that was behind the whole project, as well as the many miracles God performed to enable us to accomplish it.
Shortly after the request for one million Bibles was received from China, we sent our Chinese colleague, Joseph Lee, to ask many questions of those who made that request.
There were five house church leaders at that meeting in the southern coastal city of Swatow, today known as Shantou. Joseph’s first question was, “Do you men know how many a million Bibles are?” He described the weight and space dimensions.
The men responded, “Yes, we know and we’re prepared for them. We have a plan and a place. You just bring them!”
Joseph continued, “Do you know what could happen if you are discovered with even a portion of one million Bibles?”
They smiled and one responded, “Brother Joseph, all five of us have been in prison for many years for our faith in Jesus. And we are willing to die if one million brothers and sisters can have a copy
of God’s Word!”
Joseph reported back to us with tears in his eyes. He whispered, “I couldn’t ask them any more questions!”
Later, six of us on the project leadership team met in Hong Kong to pray and plan. Those house church leaders who requested the Bibles also promised to pray and fast for twenty‑four hours while we met.
We began with devotions. The one leading turned to Ephesians 1:18‑21. He read the passage and said, “If we are ever going to accomplish this project, it will only be in God’s power. That power “which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead...” (Eph.1:20). The meeting became inspired and continued for two more days formulating an exciting plan for a night delivery by tugboat and specially designed barge.
Later we received a message from the Chinese believers. They said, “While we were in an all‑night prayer meeting, God gave us a scripture for you. It is Ephesians 1:20.” I thought, What a coincidence!
A month later, the same six people were meeting for the second time in Manila, Philippines. This time our devotional was from Exodus 14 when the Egyptians were sorry they let the Israelis leave and began to chase them. “Then the angel of God who had been travelling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long” (Exodus 14:19‑20). We later named the tugboat and the barge after the only two angels whose names are mentioned in the scriptures.
Again a message came from China. “While we were in an all‑night prayer meeting, God gave us a scripture for you. Exodus 14:19‑20!!! I promised the Lord to never again call His messages, His timing or His appointments and plans a “coincidence.” In fact, now I actually look for them.
The greatest test of faith was finding the tugboat. God provided us a talented missionary who was an experienced sea captain. He and I searched everywhere, we thought, for a tugboat that was powerful enough to tow 232 tons, had a high bow for ocean travel, and able to accommodate a crew of 20 men. We could not find a suitable vessel and our deadline was fast approaching.
Meanwhile, our leader, Brother David, was on an author’s speaking tour in New Zealand. There he met a committed intercessor named Eddie who promised to pray all night, if necessary, asking God for direction to the right vessel. They prayed passionately and late in the evening Eddie received a vision.
He excitedly told Brother David, “I saw this sandy shoreline with green trees behind and a tall building with pastel‑coloured vertical stripes. In front of it on the sand was the tugboat up on
David, now even more excited than Eddie, queried, “Where is it?”
Eddie countered, “That’s the only thing the Lord didn’t show me!”
The next day Brother David was to return to the Philippines. An airport strike at the Auckland airport caused a delay. So he and his wife were being rerouted via Singapore on Singapore Airlines. This would require an extra night layover—at the airlines expense.
Brother David was not impressed because he wanted to get back immediately for the project supervision. On the plane his wife, Julie, casually asked, “Don’t you think the Lord is in this change
of airlines somehow?”
David suddenly realized that the captain and I had not looked for a tugboat in Singapore since none were advertised there. Immediately after the plane landed, he and Julie jumped in a cab and shouted, “Take us to the river!” It was just an hour before sundown when they raced along the highway across from the water.
As they looked across the river, they saw the sandy shoreline with green trees behind and a tall building with pastel‑coloured vertical stripes. And there on the sand propped up on jacks was not one but two tugboats.
It turned out they were brand new having been built for an Indonesian company that went bankrupt. The captain declared them perfect for the project.
Brother David and I negotiated with the owners for one. Their final price was $100,000 USD deposit (all the money we had in the bank at the time) and $380,000 USD due in 30 days—the time
required to outfit the vessel. If we did not come up with the balance in 30 days, we would forfeit our deposit. It was a big step of faith but was necessary if we were to meet our schedule for the project anyway.
God laid on the heart of Pastor Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California to call at that time for a project update. He took the need to his church board and the following week we
received a cheque from that one church for $380,000.
I’ve written a book to share all the directions God gave us and all the miracles He provided to see this project accomplished (NIGHT OF A MILLION MIRACLES: The Inside Story of Project Pearl, Open Doors International). I can testify it is God alone who should receive all the glory.
Our human frailty and inexperience was highlighted one night en route to China when we almost ran into our own barge with the tugboat.
But what about the results? This is the most exciting part of all. Project Pearl Bibles have been seen all across China. One of them was received by a young man who had been praying for a Bible for three years. After reading it through three times in three weeks, he felt God calling him to become one of the itinerant evangelists preaching in China’s countryside. Today he pastors a network of house churches that has grown to over 400,000 members. He has since received many Bibles from Open Doors for his churches but he personally used that Project Pearl Bible for fifteen years.
Some of the boxes of Bibles did get wet during the very physical and demanding off-loading procedure. Four hours after leaving the beach that night of delivery, a patrol of Chinese police came by and found some boxes of Bibles stashed under the trees. They had not yet been transferred to the numerous storage areas. The police tried unsuccessfully to burn the Bibles and then in frustration threw them into the water. The next morning, fishermen plucked these floating volumes out of the sea and put them on the roofs of their homes to dry. Later they sold them to Christians in the area.
One well-known Chinese Christian leader acknowledged receiving “wet” Bibles from Project Pearl in his book titled, The Heavenly Man. Brother Yun sent a personal message via a friend that stated, “A big ‘Thank You’ to Brother David and team who risked their lives for Project Pearl. And thank you so much for your great concern and love for the house church in China.”
Peter Xu, the leader of the Born-Again Movement—one of the largest house church networks in China—visited the U.S. office of Open Doors a few years ago. When he saw a sample of a Project Pearl Bible on a shelf, he animatedly shared his Project Pearl experiences.
After the delivery, Bibles were stored in depositories in southern China. Peter Xu sent three men every month by train or bus to the depository contacts to bring back about a thousand Bibles per trip for his growing house church movement. One month, the three men were discovered with their Bible load by the local police. The police threw the thousand Project Pearl Bibles into the cesspool of the public latrine and the three men were interrogated and jailed for the weekend.
Monday they were released and commanded to return straight home and never return. Instead they waited inside the latrine until darkness fell. Then they climbed down into the filthy cesspool of human waste, carefully retrieving each of the foul smelling books. They washed them off under the local water tap and carried them home. There they dried them out, sprayed them with perfume and circulated them through the network. Such was the hunger and importance of every copy of God’s Word.
Project Pearl also had an impact on the future printing of Bibles inside China, which continues today. Shortly after the project was completed, China’s Three Self Patriotic Movement announced the first official printing of Bibles inside the country. In his book, Jesus in Beijing, noted author and China watcher, David Aikman, wrote, “[Project] Pearl had a major long-term impact on the overall availability of Bibles in China.”
But far more important are the personal evaluations from Chinese believers: “These gifts were more precious than gold!”
A Chinese lady wrote to Brother Andrew thanking him for the first Bible she received (from Project Pearl) in answer to many years of prayer which strengthened and deepened her faith. She continued:
But please remember that hundreds of thousands more remain without the Bible. They need to be fed with the Word of God. May the grace of our Lord be with you and your mission so that many more Bibles can be delivered to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters inside China.
As a bottom line I can say that through it all, God was faithful. It was His plan, His project and therefore His accomplishment. And how exciting to be on His team! Membership is open to everyone.
Pil Soo Kim sttod half-naked in the ice-cold Tumen River. Only thirty mettrters separated him from China. He was shivering, but he had to go on. His family was starvng. There, on the other side of the freezing water, he could at least get some food.
He ultimately found much more!