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.

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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.

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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.

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Myanmar – Bibles for those who can’t afford them

Christianity is growing significantly in Myanmar and people are seeking truth through the Bible.

But there are many people who can’t afford to buy a Bible or don’t know how to get hold of a copy.

With a quarter of the population living below the poverty line, the goal is to distribute Bibles at a price people can afford.

We want to help the Myanmar Bible Society supply Scriptures to Christians in the three languages of: Myanmar (nationwide), Sgaw Karen (in the south) and Jinghpaw (in the north).

“We want to provide both ethnic majority and ethnic minority people with Scriptures in national and ethnic languages which they can read and understand clearly, to help them grow in the knowledge of God,” said Khoi Lam, Myanmar Bible Society CEO.

Myanmar Bible

Myanmar is the official language of Myanmar and is widely spoken even by ethnic minorities. The literacy rate across the country is high at 95% and demand for this Bible is huge.

Sgaw Karen Bible

Karen (Kayin) is the largest majority group in Myanmar, numbering about 7,000,000 (the number of Christians is about 500,000). Many Karen are living in the mountains and Thai border area. They are in need of the Bible.

Jinghpaw Bible

Kachin is the name commonly used by outsiders for the 600,000 tribal people calling themselves Jinghpaw. They also form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognised by China, where they numbered 132,143 people in the 2000 census. Jingpaw is spoken by 425,000 people in Myanmar and by 40,000 people in China. Due to political unrest in the region, thousands of Jinghpaw are internally displaced. Most of them are Christians.

Country facts

The population of Myanmar is 52 million of which 89.3 % are Buddhist, with Christians making up less than 6%. The government recognises 135 different ethnic groups and it’s estimated there are about 200 spoken languages. Myanmar (Burmese) is the official language and is spoken by about 68% of the population as their first language.


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