INDUSTRY — Despite being watched, detained and questioned while in China, Sylvie Venter can’t wait to go back. She even wants to bring other family members back with her.
A little tired but excited, Venter, 17, returned home late last week to share her story of trusting God to help her team pass out religious tracts or “crumbs” to people in a remote corner of China and safely withstand police detention.
A group of 15 from the United States, Canada and Australia recently traveled to Beijing and then split into smaller teams to travel throughout the country.
Venter’s team took a 24-hour train ride to Kashgar, a mostly Muslim area in a corner of China near Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was the first time anyone had brought the message to the area but people were eager to talk mostly through sign language, she said. They were also interested in reading the Chinese written tracts they carried.
“Even in the police station, the older people would roll back the pages and read,” she said.
The four team members covered seven towns before attracting attention from officials. It wasn’t a time for tourists, she said.
Cameras tracked their activity until the officials finally brought them in to check their passports and backpacks.
The officials counted their books over and over, took photos and interrogated the team members while informing them their actions were against the law. Relying on her faith, she wasn’t scared even though some of the Chinese and Arabic police there were intimidating, she said.
She was told that she couldn’t bring religion into China at all and that she should have studied before coming to China.
After two partial days of questioning, the members were allowed to go back to their hotel but officials kept their passports. They were watched and even surrounded as they ate meals away from the hotel, she said.
For four days they would go to the train station hoping to leave but officials would show up with their passports only after the train left. Finally they came at the last minute and they were allowed to board.
They were given a warning, she said. She thought they were going to deport them and is still not sure about her visa. She’ll find out in October when she plans to return.
“I learned to care about the people in China. I learned to love others and trust God for little things,” she said.
She especially loved the children, although many were living in a pile of rubbish. They were happy with little things and toys, she said. The team members would walk around the towns during the day and buy extra bread to give them, she said.
“It was neat to know this was the first time people were hearing the truth,” she said.
There are a few churches in China but while recognized as Christian, they are government churches and under government rule, she said. In one church consisting of 40 families, there is only one Bible. After someone becomes a Christian, they are given a page to memorize and share with others.
The team brought a ton of Bibles and gospel tracts with them and made it through customs without any problems, she said. The Bibles went to missionaries within the country.
Even as a little girl, Venter said she wanted to become a missionary. A friend told her about Dennis Green and his Life and Liberty Ministries in Virginia. Green has made eight trips to China to minister and bring tracts and Bibles to the people there.
At first her parents, John and Teresa, said no but then she asked them, “What if God is preparing me for a time such as this?” They said go, she said.
For a young woman who likes to read, it was like living out a story, she said of the trip.