Scripture access at an all-time high

Last year Bible Societies worldwide finished Bible translations in 61 languages spoken by more than 428 million people.

30 first translations

Thirty languages now have the Word of God for the very first time. This includes 17 communities who now have their very first Bible, six communities who have a New Testament and seven who have their first or some additional Scripture portions. This means 95 million people now have biblical material for the first time ever.

31 New Translations, revisions and study editions

In addition to these climatic firsts, Bible Societies were also busy revising and updating existing translations. In 2016 this resulted in 28 new translations and revisions plus three study editions with the potential to reach more than 333 million people.

There are currently 6,880 languages in the world spoken by more than 7.4 billion people.

Some 648 languages spoken by more than 5.1 billion people now have a complete Bible and a further 1,432 languages (spoken by 657 million people) have a New Testament. This leaves 434 million people with only some portions of Scripture and a further 253 million people with no Scripture translated in their language at all.

United Bible Societies is committed to working towards the day when everyone can access the full Bible in the language of their choice. Bible Societies are currently working no more than 400 translation projects around the world.

The Digital Bible Library

The Digital Bible Library (DBL) is central to our strategy to make the Bible as widely and easily accessible as possible. By the end of 2016, the DBL contained 1,474 Bibles, New Testaments and portions in 1,134 languages. There are also now 403 audio scriptures in 345 languages.

These languages are spoken by more than 5.2 billion people.

The DBL is owned and maintained by United Bible Societies in partnership with other Bible agencies and with the support of the Every Tribe Every Nation alliance. It makes the Bible accessible by providing digital Scripture texts to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVerion.

New Wellington Bishop’s love for the Bible

Last year one seaside church in Wellington decided to put into action the principals of Bible Society’s Pass it on campaign with great success.

Church members at St Albans in Eastbourne purchased 70 Bibles which were passed on to children and youth in the wider church family and community at a special Bible Month service. Some Bibles even went to students at Wellesley College.

Here, the then Rev. Dr Eleanor Sanderson, Vicar at St Albans and now newly ordained Anglican Assistant Bishop of Wellington shares about the experience…

“As well as supporting the work of the Bible Society through Bible Month, we wanted to take up your challenge and literally Pass It On. One of the great things about the work of those translating the Bible today is the multi-generational forms that the Bible is now shaped for. The pass it on message of Bible Month felt like a great invitation for our church to really make practical the passing of the gift of the Bible a reality right now amongst our own families and communities.”

“People were really supportive. I specifically sent a message to our prayer e-mail list with the request to purchase more Bibles for particular young people in our community and I had a fantastic response.”

A Bible enthusiast herself, Bishop Eleanor told us how important God’s Word had been to her.

“For me, the Bible has been such an important part of growing and understanding the love of God; both the love that God has for each of us, and this world, and also the love that we can have for God.

“I don’t think I would have found that love for God had it not been for finding the Bible first. Part of my faith story is that as a young teenager I woke one day with a huge urge to go and buy a Bible so that I could find out about God.

“I wasn’t part of a church or a church-going family and so this desire didn’t come from that influence. I got a bus into the nearby city and found a Christian bookshop and bought a little white Bible.

“Lots of the passages in the Bible confused me (and still do!), but through wrestling with them and reading more and more, I definitely found a strong chord of understanding that was a huge part of being drawn closer to making the decision to follow Jesus.

“During the church service I shared how later on in life God asked me to give this Bible away to another young person who was exploring spirituality.

“I shared that in my internal resistance to giving away something so precious, I remembered that God loved this person far more than I loved my precious Bible and so it is always an easy thing to say yes to passing on the gift of the Bible to others.”

Bishop Sanderson was ordained as Wellington’s first female Anglican Bishop on June 2nd at the Cathedral of St Paul .

Bible Month 2017 – The Bible: it’s good for life!

We believe the Bible is good for life! That’s why, in time for this year’s Bible Month, we’ve launched the new Good for Life initiative.

“Good for Life is all about equipping Christians with the tools they need to ensure the Bible remains an important part of their faith,”

Bible Society CEO Francis Burdett

To help churches encourage Bible reading this Bible Month, we’ve produced a set of unique Good for Life videos showing the transformational impact the Bible can have in people’s lives. These stories feature a surfer who broke his back, a Kaikoura earthquake survivor and a young girl who loves Bible stories. Watch the videos on the Good for Life web hub.

And to help church leaders understand more about the relationship New Zealanders have with the Bible, we teamed up with Nielsen to conduct a nationwide Bible reading survey. One key finding centred around the ancient biblical truth, “Do to others has you would have them do to you”.

Respondents were asked what they thought the main message of the Bible is.  Aside from those that answered ‘Don’t know’, the strong impression from the general population is that the Bible points to the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” Luke 6:31 (NIV).  In fact, some young people quoted the verse directly from the Bible.

Another interesting finding was nearly three out of five New Zealanders over 13 years old own a Bible and 7% read the Bible every day. A further 5% read the Bible weekly, meaning more than one in ten New Zealanders over 13 read the Bible every week.

Teenagers (13-18) are more likely than those aged 19-64 to read the Bible and attend church regularly. Those aged 19-24 are significantly different to all other age groups in many areas of the survey.

The 2017 Bible engagement survey also reveals the top barriers to Bible reading for Christians as a lack of self discipline (28%), being distracted by other activities (26%) and being too busy (24%).

You can order your free copy of the survey here. Other Good for Life resources include Bible posters, a six month Bible reading challenge and small group Bible studies. All these can be found on the Good for Life web hub.

Bringing the hope of Jesus to orphans in India

Bible Society in India (BSI) is bringing the hope of Jesus to homeless and orphaned children in India.

Through this work, many young lives will be impacted with a first-time introduction to Jesus through the Bible. Taking an holistic approach to mission, Bible Society not only provides children with Bibles, but also notebooks, a quality pair of shoes and a school bag.

Rahul and Rebekah (below right) are just two orphans of an estimated 8 million in India (official figures put the number of orphanages at 850,000).

“These orphanages rely heavily on Church and para-Church organisations to clothe, feed and educate the children. Bible Society is helping support this work through its 16 district offices. The children are always very happy to receive our practical gifts and spiritual support through gifts of Bibles, New Testaments and children’s Scriptures,” says Dr Varghese, BSI Marketing Director.

Christian orphanages can be found in every city and in all rural areas of every state of India. They vary in size, from housing 10 children to as many as 1,500 children or more.

*numbers are difficult to estimate accurately as many births go unregistered and many orphans live on the street.


Brother and sister orphans Rahul (pictured left) and Rebekah (right) are housed at the Kathal hostel in India.

Their grandmother Dhandi has been their main carer since their parents died. Rahul’s favourite school subjects are Gujarati and maths, and he wants to be a doctor. Rebekah’s favourite subject is English and she wants to be a nurse.

“We have seen that the Word of God sown as a seed in a child’s heart bears much fruit and is a tool in touching and transforming the lives of young children. We expect the Scriptures distributed to orphanages will have a multiplying effect, as children share it with friends at school.”

Dr Varghese, Bible Society of India

David and Lalhriatpuii

As the new school year began, BSI offered very practical help to orphaned and needy children. Staff distributed notebooks, school bags and shoes at the Khristiya Bal Vikas Centre. David said he was glad to have his new school bag and shoes. His father died when he was one and now his mother looks after him and his three brothers by herself. She thanked BSI for the generous gifts David received.

Lalhriatpuii was very happy with her new school bag. Her mother abandoned her when she was just two years old. She was in an orphanage but now lives with her father and brothers. Her father thanked BSI for the gift his daughter received and praised God for his love.

Anuja and Karishna

Anuja (left) arrived at the Bethel’s children’s home when she was seven years old. Her father died. She has a mother and an older brother and her favourite subjects are English and Gujarati. In the future she wants to be a missionary or a pastor. She heard about Jesus at a meeting and knew she wanted to give her life to him. That’s why she wants to work sharing Jesus with others.

Karishna (right) came to Bethel when she was six years old with leprosy and tuberculosis and no family to look after her. Through God’s grace, medicine was secured for her at the orphanage and two years later she was cleared of both illnesses with no lasting scars. Today she is doing well and wants to be a nurse.

Kathlal Children’s Hostel and School

Originally a mission compound opened in 1908, with a hostel opening in 1957, it houses around 65 boys and girls from disadvantaged homes as well as orphans.

On one visit, the children recited from the Bible even though they have never owned a Bible. Subsequently, BSI staff gave age-appropriate Bibles to all the children. They also received a school bag, two notebooks and a cream bun!

Vishal (pictured right) lives at the home and comes from a single parent family. His grandmother tried to help look after him. His favourite school subject is maths and his favourite Bible story is Jonah. He wants to be a policeman.


This July – New Zealand Bible Month – you can partner with us to help bring the hope of the Bible to orphans and disadvantaged children like Ruth, Rebekah, David, Lalhriatpuii, Anuja and Karishna.

Your gift will go towards helping 50,000 orphans like them receive children’s Bibles, notebooks, shoes and school bags.

Will you prayerfully consider giving the gift of a Bible to a children like these, so bringing the love of God into the life of an orphan?

To make a donation, fill in the form below.  Thank you and God bless you.