Bible Societies facing immense pressure

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.

Iraq

This is a country torn apart by war, destruction and suffering, and poverty is widespread. It is a dangerous place to be a Christian. Yet despite these conditions Bible mission continues. For the Bible Society in Iraq this is everyday life.

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

A burnt out church dome in Qaraqosh

In the picture above, a man stands in a room in a church in Qaraqosh. A room that used to contain around 500 Bibles. A room burned and Bibles destroyed by extremists as they ransacked every church on the Ninevah Plains. This is the Church of Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche who said, “I wept and wept when I came into this room to see all the Bibles destroyed.”

The Iraqi people are beginning to return home after the conflict, only to find their houses, villages and livelihoods destroyed. The Al Taheri Church was formerly the largest and most beautiful church in Iraq. Now a little group, recently returned from Kurdistan, gather and pray there. Persecution means Iraqi Christians depend on God more than ever. This means Bibles are in huge demand and people are relying on the Bible Society in Iraq. The Bible brings comfort and strength.

Today, as the result of much hard work, the Bible Society in Iraq is considered a vital and unifying part of the Christian culture. It is critical this support continues to be offered and Bible Society can maintain its presence and vital mission work.

Bangladesh

Like Iraq, Bangladesh doesn’t often feature on our nightly news bulletins. But it’s a country of great need, with many unable to read and millions underemployed (low wages and only a few working hours a week). Around 38 million live below the poverty line. Most of the 157 million people in Bangladesh are not Christian, so the presence of Bible Society is almost unimaginable. It’s a huge mission field, and the Bangladesh Bible Society is working continuously to share God’s love with people.

It takes great courage for the Bible Society team there to tackle these enormous and sometimes frightening challenges on a daily basis. They need to be very careful when they distribute scriptures in public places, as there are reports that Christian evangelists have been beaten.

But despite the continuing threat of violence, they remain faithful, positive and steadfast in their mission to get the Bible to people who need it.

“Keeping the threat in our mind, we need to share the Gospel, so that they come to know about Jesus,” said a Bible Society team member.

Even though there are huge risks, the Bangladesh Bible Society is having success running activities such as the literacy programme for women (around 30% of adult women can’t read), which means they are then able to read the Bible (pictured above). But to keep the Bible work going there, they need support for core costs such as staff, a vehicle to distribute Scripture, office costs, travel costs, seminars and Scriptures.

“We need this to stay operational,” said a Bible Society Bangladesh team member. 


The prayers of Christians in New Zealand mean a lot to the staff of the Bible Societies in Iraq and Bangladesh. These staff are inspirational and courageous people who love the Bible and want others to have Bibles too. Please pray for their protection and future operational sustainability.

You can also make a difference by making a donation to the Bible mission in Iraq and Bangladesh. Your gift will help keep the doors open as they courageously continue to provide Bibles to people who need them. To make a gift today, you can use the secure form below.


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.

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