An order of Dominican nuns in Iraq, committed to living and preaching the Gospel amidst the horrors of war, are determined to stay.
“We will not leave our people. Wherever they go, we will go,” says Sister Huda who is 66 years-old. She, along with other remaining sisters, is serving 200 children, most of whom are from Mosel.
Bible Translation Work
The Dominican Nuns also partner with Bible Society Iraq to facilitate Bible Translation work. Bible Society Iraq CEO Nabil Omeish explained the two groups have been working together for 30 years on the Bahdini (Kurdish language) New Testament Bible translation and are also working on the Old Testament. continue reading →
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. continue reading →
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.
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.
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.