One million Bibles for Cuba dream comes true

The dream of distributing one million Bibles throughout Cuba became a reality this week with the final Bible being presented to an excited young Cuban girl.

The young girl from Havana that received the one millionth Bible

Faithful Bible Society New Zealand (BSNZ) supporters have been key in making this happen and their commitment was honoured with a special engraved plaque presented to BSNZ Programme Director, Stephen Opie, who attended the finale celebration in Havana.

Humble beginnings

The idea of distributing one million Bibles in Cuba originated in 2012 after Bernt Olsen, from Bible Society in Norway found pastors in Cuba who didn’t even have a Bible themselves. This was a catalyst moment for the Biblical Commission of Cuba (Bible Society), which launched One Million Bibles for Cuba in 2012.

Since then they have worked with 60 different denominations across the country of 11 million people, and helped unite the church behind the ambitious project. For the Cuban Church, which started to grow rapidly in the early 1990s, it seemed like an impossible dream but today youth, children, prison chaplains and Bible seminaries all have Bibles.

During the life of the project, Bible distribution numbers grew exponentially, from just 32,000 in 2012 to more than 300,000 in 2017.

More work to do

“There is a real sense here that this is not an end, but a beginning,” Stephen Opie said. “The need in Cuba for more Bibles is still great, with many Cubans unable to afford one. With the church behind them, and the continued support of many faithful Christians in New Zealand and all over the world, hundreds of thousands more Bibles could be distributed in the coming years.”

Joel Dopico, Executive Director of the Cuba Council of Churches said, “If we continue on this strategy, we believe half of all Cubans can be reached with the Bible.”


The Bible bringing hope, peace and healing to the Middle East

As the fighting and conflict continues to rage in this part of the world the Bible is in unprecedented demand. It is bringing hope, peace and healing to people desperate for answers.

Bible distribution in Syria

Despite the often dangerous situations Bible Society staff on the ground in both Syria and Lebanon remain strong in their mission to get the Bible to people who need it…

Head of the Bible Society in Syria, George Andrea, recently sent us this message; “It’s true the terrible situation in our dear homeland (Syria) is going from bad to worse. We keep on praying that God himself would put an end to this war, which has already lasted for seven years.

“So far we are ok, but Damascus has been a ghost city for several weeks while the war has been going on in several suburbs of the capital. Please pray for our country.”

Among the daily threats of war, violence and persecution, the Bible Society team of staff and volunteers have remained in Syria to ensure Bible mission there continues.

George Andrea

Devastation in Aleppo

In Aleppo, the scene of the deadliest conflict of the war last year, Bible Society continued carrying out Scripture distribution and Christmas programmes in different churches. Mr Andrea (pictured right), who is based in Aleppo, along with most of the Bible Society staff team, said the churches there remained active throughout the very worst of the bombardments.
“Not only by holding funeral services – there have been far too many of those – but also by offering community-centred services, which are so badly needed,” he explained.

Church is part of people’s lives

“It may be difficult for people in other parts of the world to understand just how much the church is part of people’s lives here in the Middle East. Yes, there are many people who never attend church, but once there is a crisis more and more people get in touch with the church because it remains there, in the midst of the crisis.

“The Church doesn’t only look after its own members – thousands of families from other communities have been helped for years, and the aid is given with no strings attached. It would be very difficult to find a church in Syria which doesn’t actively help people. I believe the church is both salt and light in our country, and we need both in order to rebuild.”

Huge demand for Bibles

Amidst all this turmoil is a huge demand for Scriptures – from both Christians relying on God more than ever, and Muslims looking for an alternative to the extreme expression of Islam they see around them. Last year in Syria, Bible Society distributed 284,065 scripture items, including 7,108 Bibles, 6,676 New Testaments and 6,076 children’s Bibles. Bible Society also runs bookshops in the region, including one in the city of Aleppo – just 150 metres from the frontline of the war in Syria.

“Supporting the Christian presence all over Syria is a major need in these times. Many churches and monasteries are being attacked and burnt, which has created a fear of existence for Christians. This is our opportunity to support their continuous presence,” Mr Andrea said.

Peace and justice in Lebanon

In this often volatile region, Bible Society of Lebanon is working hard to ensure the Bible’s message of peace, justice and reconciliation impacts lives.

Mike Bassous

Lebanon Bible Society CEO Mike Bassous (pictured right) says, “The Lebanese youth have a lot of questions about God, justice and peace. This is because Lebanon and its surrounding countries have experienced wars, injustice and famine, so the youth ask, does God exist and why does he allow this to happen?”

“We believe answers can be found in the Peace and Justice Bible, which highlights more than 3,000 verses on this topic, including study sections, which help answer their questions.”

Bible Society of Lebanon is distributing the Peace and Justice Bible to these young people, including many university students, and encouraging their interaction with the Word of God. Nour is one such student whose life was turned around…

Nour discovers the Bible

Nour is a 20-year-old Lebanese woman from Tripoli (North Lebanon), who lives in a village near the Notre Dame University of Lebanon. She participated in a Bible Society university survey and programme on the Peace and Justice Bible which addressed questions about oppression, inequity and injustice. She said she didn’t like the idea of God who is responsible for injustice in the world.

However, she was surprised when she began to look at verses in the Peace and Justice Bible, and became interested in reading it, and asked for a copy. She then also asked for a Bible for her children.

Two weeks later, Bible Society staff met Nour again and they were pleased and surprised when she announced she wanted to become part of the university pastoral team as a result of reading the Bible. She said, “The God in this Bible is different to the god which I have heard about. He is a God faithful to his promises, a God who tolerates the failings of man and accepts his freedom, a God who loves and seeks the heart of man, for these reasons. I want to know more about him.”

But what is even more amazing is Nour joined the Bible Society team to become part of the first group of Christians in the history of the university to take part in pastoral care work. Mike Bassous said, “This spiritual breakthrough would not have happened without the Peace and Justice Bible.”

PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR SYRIA AND LEBANON

A final message from Mr Andrea and Mr Bassous: “We have a message of peacemaking, this is our mission. It’s also of love and reconciliation for all Syrians and Lebanese. We need to proclaim a peace that passes all understanding, and a love which forgives and repairs broken hearts. This is what we are all about. We cry with all the people suffering here, and our hearts are filled with the love of Jesus to the ones on all sides bleeding today.”

To make a donation to help bring the hope and peace of the Bible to Syria, you can use our secure donation form.

Donate now

The Super Cool Story of Jesus touches hearts nationwide

Thanks to the support of many people around the country, nearly 80,000 copies copies of the Super Cool Story of Jesus have been given away to Kiwi kids.

With demand still strong, the remaining 20,000 will be distributed soon.. During the course of this project we had many excited people contact us. One New Plymouth grandmother, who has 30 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren was so keen to get the story of Jesus to her tribe she ordered 50 copies, one for each grandchild!

We were also able to get the book to families in less favourable circumstances through our partnership with Salvation Army. Here’s what Eleanor Carr, Salvation Army Regional Family Store Manager had to say.

“It was a pleasure to be able to have the super cool super readable super engaging book The Super Cool Story of Jesus available in our Central Division Family stores. It was an extra treat for our customers and a timely offering at Easter.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Coup from Harvest Junior Church, Papakura, Auckland shares about how her church used The Super Cool Story of Jesus as a resource at a local library Storytime event.

“I decided to base our programme around The Super Cool Story of Jesus.  We had more than 20 children attend our 45-minute Storytime and craft session, where we read the Bible Story of Easter. We did crafts relating to Jesus and his love for us and then every child went home with their own copy of The Super Cool Story of Jesus. In our audience, we had a parent who hadn’t heard the Easter story before. She was able to go home with one of your books. It was a blessing being able to give back to our community in this way. We really felt we were giving the children something of worth and something that will remind them in the many Easters to come.

Bible Society’s display at the Waikato Show, where we gave away more than 300 copies of The Super Cool Story of Jesus.

“We also gave our Sunday-School children a copy each as well. The seed you have sown is huge and we wanted you to know our journey with your book! May God bless your ministry abundantly!”

And lastly, we had a very positive response at the annual Waikato Show, the first time Bible Society has exhibited there. We gave away 320 copies of The Super Cool Story of Jesus to excited kids who played on the activity table with our Bake for Bibles cookie cutters.

None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you for partnering with us and stepping out in faith. We were able to fulfill this vision of telling Kiwi kids nationwide about Jesus.


Sandalwood trees and the Bible offer hope

Since 2015, we have been partnering with the Bible Society of the South Pacific to support a creative Bible-based programme encouraging community living through growing sandalwood trees.

The MagiMagi programme is now growing strongly and is starting to change lives in the Pacific.

Now 25-30 year olds are starting to read the Bible and villagers are getting excited about the potential economic success of their sought after sandalwood trees. In addition, a village life-style based on cooperation is starting to grow. This was the way of the past.

This is all thanks to a Bible Society South Pacific (BSSP) project called MagiMagi based on biblical mentorship. The project is running in the four villages of Dravo, Maumi, Naila and Nsisogovau which together has a population of more than 800 people. Denominational churches are coming together in unity to get behind the project.

Through MagiMagi, people have received Bibles and study books in Fijian. Now they are reading them and also joining small groups to receive Bible study guidance and encouragement. In other MagiMagi villages, work is being done on translations of comics and scripture resources into local dialects. This means many people are returning to their own mother tongue.

However the big draw card for MagiMagi is the economic benefit. Fifty two sandalwood trees planted in Dravo village will be worth a staggering FJ$1.5m (NZ$1m) when harvested in the future, 10-15 years from now.

In addition, people are also being trained in producing shorter-term food crops such as taro, cassava, coconuts and cabbages. Previously individual growers were being played off against each other by buyers. Now they are selling cooperatively and getting better returns.

Model farmers – Maumi Village

This is how it works. Model farmers are mature Christians who are able to mentor and disciple others. There are 15 model farmers in Maumi trained in agricultural techniques who take other farmers under their wing. Some of the other farmers are not interested in Christian activity at first but want to learn how to make a living off their land.

One participant is Makiti, who had some land that many years ago was used to grow rice until the value of this crop plummeted. Now through MagiMagi, he has been taught how to grow watermelons, which sell for about FJ$15 each.

At first, Makiti was solely interested in learning to make a living off the land. But then he changed and became curious and Christian living and the Bible. He even attended an outreach and became a Christian.

The Bible truly is bringing the life to Fiji.

You can be involved in this creative and life-giving project in Fiji by making a donation. If you’d like to contribute, you can make an online donation using our secure form.

Make a donation now

More Pacific kids for God’s Kingdom!

Still recovering villages and schools devastated by Cyclone Winston received the welcome gift of Bibles recently from Bible Society South Pacific (BSSP).

Hundreds of Bibles were distributed to nine schools and 32 villages in Fiji as part of BSSP’s Kingdom Kids project which aims to provide children and youth with scriptures. It is hoped this material will draw them closer to God.

More than 120 Good News Bibles were gifted to schools around the island who are all in the process of rebuilding following the tropical storm. Principals and teachers were excited about the Bibles, which they were without, explained Ledua from BSSP.

Meanwhile church elders and serving lay people from 32 villages in Ovalau and Motoriki attended a Bible-based Trauma Healing workshop where more Bibles were also distributed. Around 320 Fijian New Version Bibles in total (10 to each village) were given to the workshop attendees to take back to their villages.

Bible Society New Zealand has been helping bring Bibles to children in the Pacific through the Kingdom Kids project. You can contribute to bring the hope of the Bible to children in Pacific by making a donation.

Make a donation now

Global Bible reach continues to grow

Bible reach in the key areas of distribution, translation and engagement continues to gather momentum globally.

In 2017, Bible Societies worldwide assisted in the completion of Scripture translations in 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people.

For 20 of these languages, spoken by more than 14 million people, it was their ‘first’ ever Bible translation. Seven communities received the very first full Bible in their language, four received their first New Testament and nine communities received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.

Languages change and develop over time. That is why Bible Societies are also committed to revising existing translations or providing new translations, when requested, giving new generations the chance to meaningfully engage with Scripture. In 2017, this resulted in 26 new translations and revisions, plus nine study editions, with the potential to reach more than 566 million people.

 

Why Bible translation matters

When a community receives the Scriptures in their language, something profound happens. People feel that God is speaking directly to them, from among them. “God speaks my language!” is a common joyful reaction as they start to experience the hope and transformation in the Bible.

While great strides have been made in Bible translation, with the full Bible available in the languages of around 81% of the global population, 209 million people across the world still do not have the chance to encounter any part of Scripture in their language. Much work lies ahead if at least some parts of the Bible are to be made available in these remaining 3,773 languages.


Sign Language Scriptures for Deaf Communities

Some 70 million Deaf people use sign languages as their ‘first’ or heart language. But only 10% of the more than 400 unique sign languages have any Scripture, and those that do have very little. No sign language has the full Bible; American Sign Language comes closest, with the New Testament.


Reaching People with Visual Disabilities

An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired, 40 million of whom are blind. Only 44 languages have the full Bible in Braille, with some Scripture available in a further 200+ languages.

Transcribing and printing Braille Scriptures is a significant undertaking: a full Braille Bible consists of more than 40 bulky volumes and costs around $825 to print. But despite the development of audio and other formats, Braille continues to be the most popular way for blind people to engage with the Bible.

In 2017, Bible Societies in 32 countries ran Braille projects to meet the Scripture needs of blind readers. Two languages received their first ever portions of Braille Scripture: Luganda (Uganda) and Khasi (India). A further four languages received additional Braille Scriptures: Oshikwanyama (Namibia), Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), Armenian (Armenia), and German (2017 Luther Bible). In Latin America, work was completed on the transcription of the Dios Habla Hoy version of the Spanish Bible, meaning that all 44 Braille volumes can now be printed on demand.


Scripture Access and Engagement

Developments in digital technology have provided unprecedented access to the Bible, and more people than ever before in history are engaging with Scripture – and sharing it, too.

The Digital Bible Library® (DBL), by the end of 2017, contained 1,735 Scripture texts in 1,269 languages spoken by 5.6 billion people. Audio Scriptures in the DBL nearly tripled in 2017 to 1,078 audio Scriptures in 732 unique languages spoken by 4.9 billion people.

The DBL, which is owned by United Bible Societies (UBS), makes the Bible accessible by providing Scripture texts to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVersion.


Pray for this mission!

In summary, UBS, which includes Bible Society New Zealand, is working towards the day when everyone can access the full Bible in the language of their choice. Please pray for this mission and our vital partner organisations worldwide helping with this work.


Ready for school and armed with the Bible!

Hutt Valley school children start the school year with a first for many – a Bible in hand!

More than 200 children in the Hutt Valley have begun school not only with all their school supplies, but also many of them have a children’s Bible thanks to the generosity of Bible Society’s supporters who donated to our Pass it On initiative.

The Big Little Bible (an illustrated Bible with 30 easy to read stories) and Taku Paipera – (My Bible), the only available children’s Bible in Māori – were  on offer at Hope Centre Lower Hutt’s Back to School party.

One parent at the event commented the Bible would be useful to help explain the meaning of Christmas and Easter celebrations which her children had been asking about.

At the Back to School party excited children were kitted out in school shoes and t-shirts along with gifted backpacks, lunch boxes, drink bottles, stationery supplies and packs of Lego. Cafe food, face painting, a lolly tent, games and a bouncy castle slide were also on offer as part of the fantastical, steam punk themed event.


Sharing the real meaning of Easter with Kiwi kids

Bible Society wants to share the story of Jesus with 100,000 Kiwi kids this Easter!

“This is a huge opportunity – one that could have a remarkable impact on thousands of Kiwi children in 2018. It’s the chance to get the story of Jesus into the hands of children who may never have heard this story before,” said Bible Society Programme Director Stephen Opie.

The Super Cool Story of Jesus is a creative little child-friendly book. It tells the story of Jesus’ life, including the Easter events, in playful, rhyming language with fun pictures.

Award-winning children’s author Joy Cowley says the illustrations in the book are “stunning.” She goes on to say, ”It’s such a pleasure to see the story of Christ Jesus in a multi-cultural context, beautifully designed. These illustrations will appeal to children, enhancing a message of love and light.”

Passing on faith

“We really pray this resource will help kiwi children understand the true meaning of Easter and that parents, families and friends will engage with passing it on to the next generation,” said Stephen Opie.

Parenting expert, co-founder of the Parenting Place and also founder of Faith4Families, Mary Grant says, “Of all the ways we care for our children, it could be said that, for Christian parents, passing on our faith is the most important.

 “We are the ones who can pass on the wonderful Jesus story and the truth about the God who ‘does stuff’. Not just by living it but by talking about it at every opportunity, and when our children are most receptive.”

Get your free copy today!  

The Super Cool Story of Jesus is available to anyone. Churches are encouraged to use the book for programmes, events and activities where they have children who may not know the story of Jesus. Bible Society will also be working with partner organisations to get free copies of The Super Cool Story of Jesus to families, with a special focus on reaching families in less favourable circumstances.

Donate and help reach 100,000 kids Order your free copies


The growing demand for Bibles in Africa

Christianity is growing rapidly in Africa. It’s estimated that by 2060, more than one in four of the world’s Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

With this church growth has come a corresponding growth in demand for the Bible.
To help in this task, we’ve pledged to support the Bible Societies in Tanzania and Uganda as they aim to share the hope of the Bible with as many people as they can.

 

Bible benefits Maasai children

This little boy is just one of the children to recieve a Bible from the Bible Society in Tanzania.

Sara Lepilal is a Maasai school girl. She is one of only five girls in her village who has reached primary school because, in the Maasai culture, education for girls is not valued.

Through Bible Society Tanzania she received a Bible.

On a recent visit to the area, Edward Kamwela from Bible Society Tanzania found Sara reading the Bible to 12 other non- school children. Not only was she reading them the Bible, she was dramatising the stories of the Good Samaritan and Zacchaeus.

Sara loves the Bible and told Edward, “I am very happy to own a Bible in my heart language. I understand it. In reading God’s Word, it has changed my life for the better and has influenced my friends both at school and at home.

About Tanzania

Population: 53 million
Christian: 61%
Children/youth 0-14 years: 45%

Bible Society General Secretary: Mkunga Mtingele

“Thank you for your generous and invaluable support of Scriptures for children. We don’t have adequate words to express our gratitude, but God the Father who dwells in heaven can see our hearts.” Mkunga Mtingele

“I got to know about Jesus through weekly religious classes at school, where the teacher taught us many Bible stories. My father was not literate but he was proud of my progress at school. My father allowed me to gather other children at our home to share with them about Jesus. To motivate them he gives them milk from our cows.

Another reason girls from the Maasai culture don’t complete an education is the dowry system. Sara explains, “There was a time when my father’s friends approached him to hand me over for marriage, promising to pay many cows as dowry, but my father refused. He has promised me that he will support me to carry on my schooling.”

Sara is just one of thousands of children Bible Society Tanzania wants to reach with the Word of God. They aim to distribute 60,000 Swahili and diglot (two language Bibles – English/Swahili) children’s Bibles throughout Tanzania, where children make up 45% of the population.

Can you help bring the Bible to children in Tanzania by making a donation to this important work?


Tanzanian Sunday school kids love Jesus!

Aggrey Alfred is a Sunday school boy in Tanzania who recently learned the Bible story of Joseph.

Then one day someone dropped their wallet while driving a motorcycle and Aggrey picked it up. The wallet contained an identity card, bank ATM cards, and 10,000 Tanzanian Shillings (about $6.50).

Aggrey gave the lost wallet to his teacher with everything in it, including the money. When Mary, his Sunday school teacher, heard about this she asked him how he learnt to be so honest.

Aggrey replied, “I want to be like Joseph from the Bible. He was an honest person and God fearing. As a result God made him the Prime Minister of Egypt. By being honest, one day God will make me the Prime Minister of Tanzania and enable me to help my brothers and sisters during famine times.”

Atupakisye (in the middle of the picture above in yellow blouse) says, “I thank God for providing me and the rest of us with Scriptures. We thank the Bible Society of Tanzania for the gifts. The Bible is very good with beautiful pictures of Jesus. I love Jesus very much. He is so merciful, he brought Jairus’s daughter back to life.”

Aggrey is just one of thousands of children Bible Society Tanzania wants to reach with the hope of the Bible and, like Aggrey, impact their lives for good. You can help by making a donation today.


A Ugandan woman receives a brand new Bible from the Bible Society.

A Bible in every Ugandan hand

Uganda is a country full of God’s people – 84% of the population is Christian. But many of them are without the Bible.

“The Bible is a book people crave for,” said the Bible Society of Uganda CEO, Peter Mukhama, who wants to get Bibles to everyone in his country. Most importantly, he wants the Bible to be in everyone’s heart.

The need for Bibles is urgent in Uganda because of the large Christian population as well as the high levels of poverty.

“Close to 50% of the population attend church but many of them cannot afford a Bible at the current price,” said Peter.

“Church leaders are continuously requesting low-cost Bibles as much of the population is poor and struggling to provide for their own needs. Church leaders say they are challenged to maintain congregations where many young people don’t have a Bible,” said Peter.

About Uganda

Population: 39 million
Christian: 84%
Children/youth 0-14 years: 49%

Bible Society General Secretary: Peter Mukhama

“On behalf of the Bible Society of Uganda thank you for partnering with us and helping support this initiative. This is a project we are passionate about and trust that, with growing church numbers, the availability of a Bible will help Ugandans engage better with their Christian faith. To you our dear friends in New Zealand, know that your labour in the Lord is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).  May the good Lord bless and reward you as you serve God.” Peter Mukhama

“Once the price is as low as possible, around two dollars, more people will be able to access the Bible.”

And while in the developed world many young people have the option of accessing a digital copy of the Bible, in Uganda the power supply is too unreliable to use the internet. “The printed Bible remains the most popular option for youth, who are mostly in the poor rural areas,” commented Peter.

The Bible Society of Uganda has noted the need, longing and desire of young people to own a Bible. You can help them by making a donation. Your donation will ensure more Ugandans are able to have a Bible.

 


African Christians are calling out for Bibles, the need is great. You can help bring Bibles to people in Africa by making a donation to Bible Society. If you’d like to help, you can make a donation using our secure form.

Make a donation now

Words of Wisdom for Gulf States students

The Bible Society in the Gulf is providing biblical guidance for students through its newest publication

Wisdom from the Bible for Students targets senior high school students and those in the first year of university, as they transition from the shelter of home to a more independent environment. It points them to God to whom they are ultimately responsible and to help them make wise decisions and choices based on principles outlined in Scripture.

The booklet, printed in English, emphasizes the truth of God’s Word as the basis to view oneself, others and the world they interact with. It encourages students to put God first and to adopt biblical principles as the standard to withstand the assault of post-modern values that they are exposed to through technology and culture.

“If our students are well-grounded in God’s Word, they will have the moral courage to face the challenges and situations they will encounter with God’s help.”
Hrayr Jebejian, General Secretary of the Bible Society in Gulf States

5,000 copies have been printed in English for distribution in churches in the Gulf. The demand for this book has been so great that the Bible Society will have to print thousands more very soon.

Most of the books have been ordered by pastors, Sunday school teachers, parents, and students, with many going through churches in Kuwait and the UAE cities of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain, and Dubai. Feedback from teachers, Sunday School teachers, and students who have read the book has been extremely positive.

“After reading the booklet, it made me love and value the Bible even more, seeing how everything could be drawn from this well which quenches your thirst and satiates your hunger.”
UAE student

One church leader commented, “I would like to give this to all my class students. Normally young people these days prefer to watch videos to reading books. The style of writing in this booklet draws the reader to read more. It stretches one’s imagination and challenges them to think for themselves and to consider what the Bible says.”

Story from the Bible Society in the Gulf States.