The United Bible Societies, of which Bible Society New Zealand is a member, is a global network that reaches into 244 countries and territories.
In fact, there are only nine countries where Bible Society has no work. This is a unique and very special aspect of the global Bible Society network.
Of all these countries and territories, there are six that are operating in places considered to be ‘high risk’ for Christians. These are places where the Christian church is under high pressure. Iraq and Bangladesh are two of the six. They are struggling, and need our prayers and encouragement.
For them, everyday survival is very risky and a constant struggle. Just staying operational is challenging in these hostile, and sometimes war-torn environments. It’s fair to say that these Bible Societies are holding on by the skin of their teeth.
This is a country torn apart by war, destruction and suffering, and poverty is widespread. It is a dangerous place to be a Christian. Yet despite these conditions Bible mission continues. For the Bible Society in Iraq this is everyday life.
“We always need prayer for our staff, who are working under these difficult circumstances. They require tremendous strength.”
In the picture above, a man stands in a room in a church in Qaraqosh. A room that used to contain around 500 Bibles. A room burned and Bibles destroyed by extremists as they ransacked every church on the Ninevah Plains. This is the Church of Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche who said, “I wept and wept when I came into this room to see all the Bibles destroyed.”
The Iraqi people are beginning to return home after the conflict, only to find their houses, villages and livelihoods destroyed. The Al Taheri Church was formerly the largest and most beautiful church in Iraq. Now a little group, recently returned from Kurdistan, gather and pray there. Persecution means Iraqi Christians depend on God more than ever. This means Bibles are in huge demand and people are relying on the Bible Society in Iraq. The Bible brings comfort and strength.
Today, as the result of much hard work, the Bible Society in Iraq is considered a vital and unifying part of the Christian culture. It is critical this support continues to be offered and Bible Society can maintain its presence and vital mission work.
Like Iraq, Bangladesh doesn’t often feature on our nightly news bulletins. But it’s a country of great need, with many unable to read and millions underemployed (low wages and only a few working hours a week). Around 38 million live below the poverty line. Most of the 157 million people in Bangladesh are not Christian, so the presence of Bible Society is almost unimaginable. It’s a huge mission field, and the Bangladesh Bible Society is working continuously to share God’s love with people.
It takes great courage for the Bible Society team there to tackle these enormous and sometimes frightening challenges on a daily basis. They need to be very careful when they distribute scriptures in public places, as there are reports that Christian evangelists have been beaten.
But despite the continuing threat of violence, they remain faithful, positive and steadfast in their mission to get the Bible to people who need it.
“Keeping the threat in our mind, we need to share the Gospel, so that they come to know about Jesus,” said a Bible Society team member.
Even though there are huge risks, the Bangladesh Bible Society is having success running activities such as the literacy programme for women (around 30% of adult women can’t read), which means they are then able to read the Bible (pictured above). But to keep the Bible work going there, they need support for core costs such as staff, a vehicle to distribute Scripture, office costs, travel costs, seminars and Scriptures.
“We need this to stay operational,” said a Bible Society Bangladesh team member.
The prayers of Christians in New Zealand mean a lot to the staff of the Bible Societies in Iraq and Bangladesh. These staff are inspirational and courageous people who love the Bible and want others to have Bibles too. Please pray for their protection and future operational sustainability.
You can also make a difference by making a donation to the Bible mission in Iraq and Bangladesh. Your gift will help keep the doors open as they courageously continue to provide Bibles to people who need them. To make a gift today, you can use the secure form below.