No matter how you feel about America’s decentralized phone confusion, the fact remains that, thanks to Ma Bell, Nanjing, China, is as close as Nantucket, Maine—give or take a few touch tones. And for author Sharon Mumper, this meant the difference between a cover story based solely upon second-and third-hand reports, and one offering CT readers an insider’s look at a complex situation.

Most surprisingly perhaps, Mumper, the associate director of Evangelical Missions Information Service and three-time visitor to the People’s Republic, was able to dial Bishop Ting, the controversial head of China’s state-approved church organization, direct.

“It’s hard to get a phone number inside a Communist country,” she telephonically told CT editors after completing her story. “But fortunately, we had a contact in Hong Kong who had the bishop’s Nanjing number.”

Twelve digits later, Sharon had her interview: “The bishop’s superb English made the best of a bad connection.”

Sharon reached out and touched the Orient eight times, getting quotes and counsel from assorted men and women familiar with both Ting’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China’s multitudinous house churches: all in addition to getting a phone bill for $295.93.

HAROLD SMITH, Managing Editor

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