Looking back at 2019 – New Zealanders bringing the Bible to the world

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  Luke 2:11 (NIV)

It’s almost Christmas, and we would like to let you know how much we have appreciated your support and prayers throughout 2019. Through the unfailing help and guidance of the Lord and your faithful partnership with us, we have achieved great things! So thank you!

We really believe you are a hero bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to people in many places around the world. This is particularly relevant in this, our 173rd year of mission in this country. In just under two years’ time (September 2nd, 2021), we will be celebrating an incredible milestone: 175 years of Bible mission in New Zealand!

Over the past year, many of you have supported the mission by giving, praying and volunteering. Here are just a few of the highlights you’ve helped achieve throughout the year, along with some words of thanks from Bible Societies across the world. continue reading →

Bible Societies facing immense pressure

From Genesis to Revelation many Bible stories took place in the countries that we know today as Iraq and Turkey.

The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:14 NIV).

Turkey and Iraq are countries that share a land border and are part of the Fertile Crescent region, including the major river system formed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Their towns and place names are found throughout the Bible.

For example, Abraham came from the city of Ur in Iraq. He migrated to Haran in southern Turkey and settled there (Genesis 11:31). Jacob’s sons were all born in Iraq. The city of Nineveh in the Book of Jonah is in Iraq, and events from the books of Esther and Daniel took place there. Even the Garden of Eden was in Iraq. continue reading →

Great news from Syria!

It’s sometimes the case that in the most terrible of times, good things emerge. We see that message threaded through the Bible: amid the most dire situations, God brings good. And it’s still the testimony of God’s people today…

Do you remember the terrible news reports of bombing, gas attacks and desperate refugees coming from Syria? We’ve had an update from George, the General Secretary of Bible Society in Syria (pictured right), which we’re delighted to share with you.

“The war has led people to Christ,” George said. “No one would have believed this when the conflict began! God has used events that people created for something good.”

Although half of Christians in Syria fled during the war, Bible sales went up. Many houses in Aleppo were destroyed by rockets but the Bible Society bookshop was spared. Its doors have stayed open every day of the war to serve the needs of all Syrians.

When asked who is reading all these Bibles when so many Christians have gone George said, “Isn’t it obvious? It’s everyone else. Those who have belonged to another religion are in search of the truth – and they find it in the Bible.”

The Bible Society’s busy year in Syria

August was, as usual, very hot in Syria but this did not stop the Bible Society from holding a Sunday-School Teacher’s Training Seminar for 60 new teachers in a village called Mashta el-Helou on coast. Simultaneously, another 50 teachers attendeda training event in Homs.  Nabil Saad, Programmes Coordinator was excited by the response. “You should have seen the enthusiasm among the teachers being students and the way that they responded to the lecturers from both Syria and Lebanon. We are blessed to work with the very best when it comes to teaching others,” he said. “It is not only a matter of imparting Biblical knowledge to the young children attending Sunday-School in churches across the country, but the true goal is to see how the children enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.”

Biggest book fair in Syria

Since May, the Bible Society staff have been preparing for the largest book fair in Syria, and the second largest in the Arab World. Happening right now, this will be the Bible Society’s 29th year of attending the fair. Up to one million visitors are expected, and Bible Society’s stand there will require more than 11 staff and volunteers to manage and ensure those that come to learn about the Bible have a great experience.

Distribution still key activity

Nabil reports that Bible distribution is still their key activity in Syria.

“In July we gathered colleagues and volunteers from many churches to receive intensive Bible training during a few days at a Syriac Orthodox Campsite in Kessab, northern Syria. Some of the best Bible teachers in Syria had volunteered to share what the Bible is all about and how to make it come alive for others,” Nabil shared.

This is an important event for the Bible Society who utilises a network of volunteers who work long hours every year during the big Scripture distribution times at Christmas and Easter. Nabil says they regularly report that people all over Syria keep asking for Bibles as people are hungry and thirsty for his Word.

Thank you to all of our supporters who continue to pray and give towards this vital mission in Syria. The team there are very grateful for you all.

No words can describe our true joy being involved with the work that God’s given us to do in our homeland Syria, but we keep on reminding ourselves what the Lord said in the Gospel of Saint Luke: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few! Nabil Saad, Bible Society in Syria.

More Bibles says China – millions still waiting

Across China people are seeking for, drawing from and being convicted by the Bible!

In rural areas and cities alike the Bible is sought after like never before. Officially, the number of Christians in China is 46 million but unofficially the figure is around 100 million.

The Amity Printing Press, situated in Nanjing, is printing Bibles for Chinese Christians, but the demand is hard to keep up with. Particularly, there is a great need for funding for Bible paper, which enables Bibles to be printed at lower prices. These Bibles are either sold at reduced prices or they are given away for free to believers in poorer, rural regions, or to ethnic minorities living in the mountainous regions.

The Amity Printing Press has seen many milestones, including ten million Bibles printed by 1995, 100 million Bibles printed by 2012, and 200 million Bibles printed by 2019. continue reading →

Vietnam’s ethnic minorities long for the Bible

Many of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups are marginalised and at the bottom of the rung economically and in terms of literacy rates.

Yet, it’s among these marginalised groups that Christianity has often taken a hold. This is why the Vietnam Bible Society is undertaking the critical task of translating the Bible into their various heart languages.

Hmong women in a rural village in Laos.

The Hmong

The Hmong people live in Vietnam’s northern highlands.  In the 1980s, the Hmong stumbled across a Hmong-language Christian radio programme being broadcast from Manila.  Soon, Christianity spread like wildfire through the Hmong population. Today, 300,000 out of the one million Hmong living in Vietnam is Christian. continue reading →

Project update – Domestic violence prevention in Guatemala

Yes! There is a solution to domestic violence in Guatemala.

Thanks to the generosity of Bible Society New Zealand’s Bible a Month Club supporters, we have been able to support a life-changing domestic violence prevention programme in Guatemala, a country with very high rates of domestic violence.

During the first six months of 2019, 602 families and 1,021 children participated in three workshops on the prevention of child abuse. These workshops are built on biblical principles and values. Eleven schools and churches located in vulnerable areas have also opened their doors for the project. The most amazing result from this has been the interest in the Bible shown by children. Many have formed reading clubs and some teachers are including the Bible in their classes as a reading text. continue reading →

The Bible is bringing hope to South East Asian Christians

The Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia all have in one thing in common. They all have a desperate need for the Bible and the hope it brings.

In Cambodia, it’s an urgent need for help with growing literacy rates so people can read the Bible. In Malaysia, where floods of migrants and refugees wait, it’s providing the hope that the Bible brings. And in the Philippines, it’s Scripture access for the 2.2 million visually impaired people.

Cambodia – learning through listening

Literacy is key to the growth of the Christian church in Cambodia. It enables people to have access to the Word of God and move from darkness into light. Cambodia’s education system is underfunded and many of the teachers, particularly those in rural areas, are so lowly paid they have to take multiple jobs just to survive. continue reading →

Bespoke Bibles for New Zealand’s Army, Airforce and Navy

Bible Society New Zealand has just given 5,000 specially designed Bibles to the chaplaincy service of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

Chaplain Di Woods with 2019 Airforce Bible

For the first time ever, the Bibles were individually tailored to members of New Zealand’s Airforce, Navy and Army. Each of the three different editions of the NZDF Bible includes messages from the Governor General and the Principal Defence Force Chaplain Ants Hawes, along with NZDF photographs, the National Anthem and the relevant prayer for each of the Forces.

The majority of the Bibles will be given to new NZDF recruits who can choose to attest on the Bible at their swearing in ceremony. “They are then asked if they would like to keep the Bible,” Ants Hawes says. continue reading →

Restoration of the wounded heart in Rwanda

Rwanda is a country in the process of rapid transformation. Its recovery from the brutal 1994 genocide that claimed one million lives is a slow, difficult and ongoing process.

It was one of the most violent killings the world has ever seen. Women and girls were raped, while countless children witnessed the slaughter of their parents, often by people they had previously known as friends and neighbours. All of this left many people in Rwanda traumatised.

Now the Bible is helping heal these deep wounds of the past with its message of hope, forgiveness and restoration. Bible Society Rwanda is helping lead the way with a project aimed at healing trauma with biblical audio material. This project is very important for the Rwandan community, especially for Christians, who make up more than 93 percent of the 12 million plus population. Many people go to church to see if they can find peace and healing. Biblical trauma healing is restoring their hope and helping reconciliation among the Rwandan people who are being transformed with the Word of God. continue reading →