Thai Study Bible will be the first of its kind

Thailand Bible Society’s (TBS) soon to be published new Thai Study Bible will be the first of its kind and sought after by the Thai church.

While there are other Thai Study Bibles on the market (translated from English), this TBS edition will be unique because of its Thai perspective and impartial stance on biblical interpretation, reported Dr. Pattemore (in picture, far right).

Thailand is a country with a high standard of education, and a growing Christian population. For many years now TBS has been working to produce a high quality Thai Study Bible.

Dr. Pattemore supports a team of TBS staff and biblical scholars who are writing notes designed specifically for the Thai context – not translated from another Study Bible. This has been a long and arduous task, but it’s nearing the point where the end is in sight.

UBS’s Paratext software enables Dr. Pattemore, who is fluent in Thai, to read and interact with the notes and the team of writers from wherever he is in the world. But opportunities to meet face to face and talk through theological and social issues are important too, he said.

Will you prayerfully consider how you can help support translation of the Thai Study Bible by making a gift today?

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The Bible treasured in Papua New Guinea

“In Papua New Guinea the Bible is a huge treasure. It’s like you’ve given them a gift from the moon.”

“They walk around carrying their Bible in a special bag, like a priceless gift. They do this even when the pages are worn and ragged around the edges and falling apart.”

This is the observation of Salvation Army Commissioner Yvonne Westrupp, who has just returned from three years serving in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Joel Peter is Bible Society of Papua New Guinea’s (BSPNG) Translations Manager. He works to support Bible translations in nine languages. In his spare time he works on the translation of the Old Testament into his own Molima language. He says having the Bible in a people’s heart language is critical.

He says the translated Word of God helps his people understand God’s message of salvation and they can respond with faith because it grabs the heart of people.

“My people are glad to have the Bible written in our words, which is the most precious treasure we have.”

Joel says there is still a huge and growing spiritual hunger for the Bible in PNG. “There are many young people giving their lives to the Lord who are without Bibles. Churches, particularly from Milne Bay, are sending numerous requests to BSPNG asking for Bibles in Tok Pisin, Dobu and, of course, English, but Bible Society is unable to meet their needs.”

Joel has a message for you.

“We are so thankful for you and your continuous support of Bible translation in PNG. We are seeing lives changing. The ministry of Bible translation is a huge responsibility in a country like PNG because it is so linguistically diverse with more than 800 languages. May God our heavenly Father bless your hearts.”

Will you partner with us and help bring the Bible to people in Papua New Guinea in a language they can read and understand?

Make a donation now

Urak Lawoi Bible nears completion

Ethim is one of the Urak Lawoi, a minority fishing community on Thailand’s Andaman coast, whose land tenure is under threat.

Ethim (right) and Dr Stephen Pattemore learn the new software.

Pictured above; a Bible study group in Baan Nai Rai, an Urak Lawoi village on Lanta Yai Island, Krabi province.

Ethim lives in a corrugated iron house and has four years primary education. For years he has worked tirelessly from his bed as a voluntary Bible translator, working to make the Bible available to his people in their heart language.

He was paralysed after diving for salvage and getting the bends. He recovered the use of his upper body but his lower body remains paralysed. Bible Society New Zealand Translations Director Dr. Stephen Pattemore says he now faces a new hurdle but one he will take in his stride.

Ethim, along with all United Bible Society (UBS) translators, has to learn a whole new level of computing involving an upgrade from an existing version of Paratext (special translation software) to a new version. This means migrating all his already translated Bible text to the new software, a complex process. Despite this, the Urak Lawoi Bible is nearly ready for publication after some final checking.

Dr. Pattemore, who is now working on Bible publication plans, says Urak Lawoi is a threatened language, and the communities of Christians there include those who are illiterate, as well as those literate in Thai and Urak Lawoi.

The historical section of the Old Testament will be published in three volumes as diglot* editions in Urak Lawoi and Thai. But the whole Urak Lawoi Bible will probably be an electronic edition. “Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular and widely used in Urak Lawoi villages, and already Pastor AhLin reads his Thai Bible on the YouVersion app. So this seems to be the way to go,” said Dr. Pattemore.

Will you partner with us to make the Bible a reality for the Urak Lawoi people? You can make a secure donation by clicking on the button below.

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God’s Word spreads further in the South Pacific

Children and adults alike from Kiribati and Tuvalu in the South Pacific are delighted to have Bible comic story books in their own heart language for the very first time.

“Their reaction was one of amazement and they were so appreciative,” said Charles Cleary and Seremaia Rareba from the Bible Society of the South Pacific (BSSP). “Please thank all the generous supporters in New Zealand for making this possible,” they said.

More copies of the Bible comic story book titled, The Man Who Trusted God, The Story of Abraham, with content from Genesis 12 to 22, are currently being distributed to Kiribati and Tuvalu churches and communities in Suva, Fiji, before being shipped to the islands.

The Abraham Bible story comics are part of Bible Society’s ongoing mission to reach the people of the South Pacific with the Bible in their heart language.

The next translation project to be finalised in the South Pacific will be the Hano New Testament in Vanuatu. Here, the Hano language is spoken by more than 6,000 people in the North Pentecost area of the island with 1,000 speakers in the main centres.

The last publication of the Scriptures in the Hano language was in 1988, consisting of the four Gospels. The New Testament is nearly complete now with final checking in progress.

It’s hard to imagine that many people in some of New Zealand’s favourite Pacific holiday destinations still do not have the Bible in their own language.

Tropical getaway destinations such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue and French Polynesia, many of which have multiple languages, are waiting for Bible translation projects to be completed or started.

Seremaia (left) from BSSP with Rev Kabong, a church minister from the Kiribati community, with some of the comics.

Without the Bible in their own heart language it’s much harder to connect intimately with God.

There is ongoing translation work on the Tongan Contemporary Old Testament. Text is also being prepared for Bible resources such as concordances and electronic Bibles, which will be distributed in Tuvalu, Kiribati, Niue, Tahiti and Tonga.

In Fiji, translation work continues on the Maumi and Korobubu-Ba New Testaments, with both projects due to print trial editions of completed books later in the year.

Finally, people experiencing trauma will be helped by the translation of biblical trauma healing materials into various South Pacific languages.

Apenesia Lewatoro joined BSSP because he was fascinated with translation work and had a heart to make God’s Word available in the language of his people.

He said, “Bibles were originally translated by the missionaries in the 1800s and one of the challenges now is people don’t understand the languages of the past. We’re working towards translating the Bible into today’s languages of contemporary Fijian, Kiribati, Tongan, and Samoan. Then people can understand God’s Word and make changes in their lives.”

“Thank you so much for your kind hearts in supporting Bible work in the South Pacific. God bless you all.

You can help the Bible Society in the South Pacific bring the Bible to people in their heart language. To make a secure donation to this work, click on the button below.

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Bible helping save the Tokelauan language

This week is Tokelau Language week – seven days dedicated to maintaining and promoting the Tokelaun language.

A translation review team in action.

More than 7,000 Tokelauans live in New Zealand, with 50% living in Wellington as well as Tokelauan communities in Auckland, Taupō, and Rotorua. There are only 1,400 Tokelauans living on the island of Tokelau.

The 2006 Census reported that the Tokelauan language is one of the most-at-risk Pacific languages in New Zealand, along with Niuean and Cook Island Maori. Today only 34% of Tokelauans speak their heritage language.

A scene from the launch of the Tokelauan New Testament at Pahina O Tokelaua, Porirua, in 2009.

This is why our Tokelau Bible translation project is so important. Not only does it mean Tokelauans can read the Bible in their own tongue but it will also lead to the preservation of their language and, as part of that, their culture.

The completion of the Tokelauan Bible next year will be end of a 21-year project for head translator Ionae Teao. Ioane has dedicated his life to this project, which was initiated by the Tokelauan Society for the Translation of the Bible and supported by Bible Society New Zealand.

Listen to Dr Stephen Pattemore speaking on Radio New Zealand about the Tokelauan translation project (click on the logo)

The Tokelauan New Testament was launched in June in 2009 with great celebrations and accolades. Now as the finishing touches are made to the Tokelauan Old Testament next year, and publication set for early 2019, the Tokelauan community in New Zealand will again have cause for celebration.

To resource Tokelauan Language Week, we’ve made available our

popular Little Book of Hope in Tokelauan (picture right). This palm-sized booklet contains Bible verses grouped under the themes of peace, strength, unity and hope.

Ke manuia koutou i te Alofa o te Atua. Tokelauan for May you be blessed in God’s love.


More about The Little Book of Hope

Thousands of Kiwi kids will get really good news this Christmas

Bible Society is giving away 93,000 booklets and leaflets nationwide telling the Christmas story.

“Christmas is gift-giving time, and Bible Society is very happy to offer creative resources that share the good news of Christmas – the story of the birth of Jesus – to children this year. Many Kiwi kids today have never heard this message. We trust it will be blessing to them,” said Stephen Opie of Bible Society New Zealand.

The Well Good News of Christmas  is a unique booklet telling the story of the birth of Jesus and why it is such good news. It includes Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, the shepherds and the three wise men all in child-friendly rhyming language with colourful illustrations.

More than 3,000 copies of The Well Good News of Christmas will be given away free this Christmas, equipping parents and churches to pass on the story.

Meanwhile BSNZ’s annual Christmas leaflet sent to churches throughout New Zealand is this year called Escape to Egypt. Created in partnership with the Anglican children’s and families ministry STRANDZ, this free leaflet tells the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus and then the family’s subsequent escape to Egypt. It will prompt children to think about how Jesus started his life as a refugee, and the importance of sharing kindness, joy and aroha with others. More than 90,000 copies of Escape to Egypt will be given away.

“We really pray these resources will help Kiwi kids understand the true meaning of Christmas and that parents, families and friends will engage with passing it on to the next generation,” said Stephen Opie from BSNZ.

More about Well Good Christmas More about  Escape to Egypt

New Scriptures and a translation centre for the deaf in Nigeria

“I am so happy – the Deaf can now hear God!”

These are the words of Pastor Luke Bello at the dedication of 110 Chronological Bible Stories in Nigerian Sign Language (NSL)* – the mother tongue of most of the country’s one million Deaf people.

Olugbenga Lakanmi

The dedication took place on September 30 during the official opening of the Deaf Bible Translation Centre in Ibadan, a city in south-west Nigeria.

Mr Bello, himself Deaf, is a leader in the Christian Mission for the Deaf Church in the village of Ikire, Osun State. Speaking through an interpreter, he explained how he had been concerned for a long time that there were no Scriptures available in NSL.

So glad to witness this moment!

“I wondered how Deaf people could ever truly understand God and his love for them,” he said. “But now we will use these Bible stories in our language to teach them. We have waited for so long for this, and I am so glad to witness this moment!”

Another member of the Deaf community, Olugbenga Lakanmi (pictured right), was so excited to hear about the Deaf Bible Translation Centre that he travelled 120km from his home in Lagos to attend its opening.

“I feel so great to see the wonders of God! Not only do we now have part of the Bible in our language, but this new centre has been built for our benefit. When we watched one of the Bible story videos we really liked it. It is so much easier for us to understand than trying to read it in written form.” Olugbenga Lakanmi

Just the beginning

As a visible sign of its commitment to serving the largely unreached Deaf community, the Bible Society of Nigeria opened the Deaf Bible Translation Centre on September 30, 2017.

Mr Bello and Mr Lakanmi were among more than 120 members of the Deaf community who attended the event. They were delighted when Bible Society of Nigeria General Secretary Dr Dare Ajiboye, who is passionate about reaching the Deaf and had learnt some NSL especially for the occasion, signed a greeting to them. He explained the Bible Society’s commitment to giving everyone in Nigeria access to God’s Word. He added that the 110 Chronological Bible Stories in NSL and the opening of the translation centre were just the beginning of a project to reach the country’s Deaf people. He reminded the gathering that this work will require much commitment, including ongoing funding.

Management of the project to translate the Bible into NSL was formally handed over to the Bible Society by DOOR International during the event. By 2020, the Bible Society plans to have completed 240 Bible stories or Portions in NSL, which is about 18% of the full Bible.

*The very first Scriptures in NSL – 32 Bible stories – were made available in late 2014.

Story by Benjamin Mordi, Media and Programmes Manager, Bible Society of Nigeria

Touching lives in Israel with the Bible

“What I want supporters in New Zealand to know is the Word of God is changing lives in Israel!”

“It is because of your support we can do this. Thank you, and please keep it up, there is still more work to do,” says Victor Kalisher, Head of Bible Society in Israel (BSI).

“For me to know I am here in Israel and you are on the other side of the world, but we are working together in unity to build the body of Christ – it’s so encouraging for us here at BSI.”

One of the ways you can help with Bible mission in Israel right now is by helping BSI reach out to migrants in the Holy Land with the Bible.

Faithful outreach

Every week, without fail, Victor and his team pack up their supplies of Bibles, biblical materials, tables and soup pots and head out to areas of Jerusalem frequented by desperate and poor migrants. They come from many countries including Ethiopia and Russia. The refugees sit, waiting patiently, as the team prepare the food. “Seeing how desperately hungry they are is very sad and makes us wish we could do more,” says Victor.

Migrants like these from African countries, receive Bibles and meals from BSI.

But what he and his team do is open up the fullness of the Bible to these migrants. “We share with them, talk and give them the Gospel. It’s amazing. People ask us questions. Just a few weeks ago a man approached us and said, ‘I want to know more about Jesus, do you have some materials?’ We gave him a New Testament. This is just one example.”

“We give them spiritual food and provide the Bible in many different languages for them,” said Victor.

“One time, an Israeli man came up to us. He said he’d been watching us from a distance and noticed we were not only giving food but we also cared and talked to the refugees showing them love. ‘I know who you are and I know you give Christian literature. Your Jesus must have a lot of love and you show it to others,’ he said. When we asked him if he would like a New Testament in Hebrew, he told us if we had met him in the streets of Tel Aviv he would have said no. But because of what he witnessed today he said, ‘Your God must be a great man and I am more than happy to take a New Testament.’”

Victor’s story

Victor, who trained as an electrical engineer, joined Bible Society because it was a calling on his life. “I knew I would serve the Lord full-time. I knew it from my childhood.”

“My father is a holocaust survivor,” said Victor. “He then went through the Independence War (the 1948 Arab-Israeli war) and with no surviving family or any worldly goods left he came to faith by receiving a Bible. He started reading it and realised there was a God in spite of everything he had been through.

A table stacked full of biblical materials is popular with the many Israelis who are seeking spiritual meaning and truth for their lives.

“The Word of God is living and it changes lives. I’ve seen it through the life of my father. He was never angry. I saw how God worked in his heart. So for me, I know the Lord can change lives through his Word.”

“There are many things that are happening in Israel. In the news you hear about conflict but you don’t hear about what God is doing. God is doing a lot. There is a growing body of believers, people come to faith and they are eager to share their faith with others.”

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:40 (NAS1977)

Easter/Passover outreach

During the time of Easter and Passover, BSI tried a different approach with a Gospel choir from France. During the day, staff and volunteers went out onto the streets and beaches inviting people to the nightly concerts.

“At the entrance, we placed a big table stacked with Bibles in assorted languages. We were surprised by how many books were gone on the first night. The people said that the choir was very good and it even attracted local neighbouring Israelis. Following each song, a short gospel message was given,” shared Victor.

This lady is reading a booklet of 25 Bible stories given to her by BSI.

The homeless, drug addicts and refugees from the park were also invited. Each night after the concert, BSI organised a big cookout and invited everyone. “It was so good to see their smiling faces. For a few hours, at least, they were able to forget all their problems. Some of the people asked for prayer, including a young Israeli woman who was a drug addict. She approached the pastor who had just spoken and hugged him and she said with tears running down her face,

‘Your message touched me. Can your Jesus save me? Please pray for me, I want to start a new life.’”

Victor says BSI is now in regular contact with her and praying God will touch her and transform her life.

We hope you’ve been encouraged by the story Victor has shared. Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us to help reach people in Israel with the Bible?

If you can help, use the form below to make a donation…

Bringing the Bible to hard places – Iraq and Bangladesh

Can you imagine doing Bible mission in a country at war with fighting, destruction and danger all around you?

A place where Christians are persecuted, the government is unstable, violence is commonplace and poverty is widespread? This is the everyday reality for the Bible Society in Iraq.

Nabil Omiesh, Head of the Bible Society in Iraq, describes their operational conditions as “difficult”, and he makes a plea for support. “Due to the hard and difficult situation Iraq is passing through now, the religious extremism in the region, I would like to ask our Christian friends in New Zealand to help their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq. God bless you.”

They need help to keep them operational, so they can continue to have a presence in this war-torn landscape.

“We always need prayer for our staff, who are working under these difficult circumstances and require tremendous strength.”

Recently, Sandra Elliot from International Christian Concern (ICC) reported in an Assist News Service article the closure of eight churches in Baghdad due to significant loss of the Christian population. She writes, “Christianity was once an integral part of the multi-faceted religious fabric of Iraq. At the beginning of the 21st century, Christians made up ten percent of the total population. The recent history of Iraq, however, reflects a stream of repression, conflict, displacement and persecution.

“For the 230,000 Christians remaining in Iraq, we must continue to pray and support them,” she said.

The Bible Society in Iraq has two offices, one in the north dealing with the needs of the surrounding region and another in Baghdad dealing with the middle and southern part of the country.

Their most immediate need is for a vehicle for Bible distribution. “Our offices are very simple and spartan. We have one distribution van for our offices in Bagdad but we don’t have one for the Arbil (north) office,” says Nabil.

Nabil tells us another pressing need is for essentials like printers and basic office equipment because of their difficult working conditions and their limited budget.

But finally the biggest need, he says, is for prayer. “We always need prayer for our staff, who are working under these difficult circumstances and require tremendous strength.”

But despite all this, Nabil says he and his staff try to work hard with “joy and peace” in their hearts “to serve the Lord Jesus Christ”.

This steadfast faith is bearing fruit, and the Bible Society in Iraq is considered an important part of the Christian culture in the country.

Nabil says they’re providing several key Bible programmes for children and people in need as well as an important Bible-based trauma healing programme.

Persecution and physical hardship are also commonplace for Christians in Bangladesh.

A developing country, Bangladesh continually faces severe environmental issues, such as last month’s devastating monsoon rains which displaced millions of people, along with poverty and illiteracy.

In Bangladesh there is no war, but in many other ways, the situation is just as bleak as Iraq.

Only 0.6% of the vast 165 million population is Christian. Bangladeshi Christians tend to be poor and working in rural areas. They live in villages and are mostly farmers living hand to mouth. Their low income means they are not able to purchase Scriptures for their own use, yet this growing Christian community is hungry for the Word of God.

Bible Society is the only supplier of Scriptures to the churches in Bangladesh and they depend on them to provide Bibles for their committed, but unsupported, congregations.

“In addition to keeping the Christian community supplied with Scriptures, there is a great need to share the Bible with this huge number of people, who speak 46 different languages and have not yet heard the Word of God,” said acting Bangladesh Bible Society CEO Richmond Joydhor.

Like Iraq, the Bible Society’s greatest need in Bangladesh is for a vehicle. Bibles and biblical resources are too sensitive to post in Bangladesh so the only safe means of distribution is through private transportation to reach every corner of the country. They also need help with basic operational costs including equipment and staff training.

Would you prayerfully consider this opportunity to help continue the Bible work in Iraq and Bangladesh? Your gift will help provide resources including vehicles to ensure they can continue to reach people with the Bible.

You can make a secure donation now using this form…

Mai Chen and her Bible – a reality check on life

Prominent top lawyer, twice New Zealander of the Year finalist, and with qualifications too numerous to list, Mai Chen is a phenomenal success.

Her name opens doors. Today she is managing director of Chen Palmer Barristers and Solicitors, Australasia’s first public law specialist firm, a BNZ Board director, an Adjunct Professor at Auckland University Law School, and surprisingly… a Bible enthusiast.

Bible Society’s Sarah Richards speaks with Mai Chen about how the Bible influences her.

“The Bible is so important. I read it first thing every morning,” she says.

When I ask her how she finds time to read it she replies, “It’s easy. You just get up in the morning you switch on your morning devotion on your iPhone and you read it. I also have an NIV Bible app and I quite often run and listen, or walk and listen or drive and listen. It’s always good to hear the Bible and be bought back to the things that really matter.

“I would rather have the Bible going through my head than Katy Perry,” she says. Mai believes it helps with the self-talk we have going through our heads every day. “It (the Bible) helps me to have God in mind, it helps me enormously.”

“The wonderful thing about the Bible is it’s all about our imperfection. Jesus didn’t come for the wealthy and righteous, he came for the sick – so you just take what medicine you can when you can. I try and read it when I can, if I get some solitude at the weekend, when I walk or run the dog – I find it helps me. I listen to the Bible instead of listening to music or podcasts.”

Elaborating on this Mai says the Bible helps centre her and it’s her guiding light. “It keeps you on course. And I love it because it’s such a radical book and Jesus was such a radical person. He didn’t do what people expected him to do.

“He wasn’t mightier than thou, he didn’t look down on people, he said to the prostitute, ‘I don’t condemn you either, go in peace’. He healed sick people, he hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. He annoyed people we could consider to be the high and mighty and it’s really good to be reminded of this when we read the Bible.”

I asked Mai what the Bible means to her personally.  She replied, “Well it’s the only way I can touch God really . Every now and then, I get a glimpse of God, some manifestation of him in my life and sometimes he speaks to me, otherwise I am learning by reading the Bible.”

However it was on a trip to Israel with her husband, Dr John Sinclair, whom she met at a Scripture Union camp as a teenager, that Mai gained a much greater appreciation of the Bible.

“Israel made the Bible come to life for me. Jesus could have come down anywhere on the planet but he came down in the Middle East. My husband got sunstroke and we were only there in october. And I thought about the verses in the Bible where Jesus said go out into the world, don’t take anything with you, not even a coat and I ‘ll just provide for you.  I thought about how hot the climate was when the disciples were told to not take anything.”

Another reason Mai loves the Bible is because it’s a reality check on life.

“The world tells us that it’s all about being happy  and not having any problems . And people think being Godly must mean their life is going to go smoothly. But actually his (Jesus’) life was far from smooth. So it’s good to be reminded about this when life is hard. We want to be rich, we want to be beautiful, we want to be loved, we want to be popular, we don’t want pain but the Bible says that those who follow him will have trouble ahead. But the Bible says he will provide.”

Mai Chen has accomplished many things such as writing the Public Law Toolbox and the Superdiversity Stocktake  and setting up the Superdiversity Centre as well as establishing groups including New Zealand Asian Leaders and Superdiverse Women.

She says there is no doubt her gifts are God-given.

“I can’t sit on them (the gifts). I have to use them and I am lucky to have them. I don’t have very many and there are days when I feel totally inadequate. But God gave me the ability to think. I have a good mind. I have a lot of ideas. A lot of these ideas drop into my head whole, I am really fortunate to be like that.

“Time is a gift. The question is what you do with it. I spend most of my time productively.  I read things, listen to things, think about things, or I am doing something meaningful with my family. It’s not often I slump on the couch, eat ice-cream and watch TV. Time is short and I don’t have very much of it, I don’t want to go with all my gifts not used.”