Our current focus is on providing Scriptures to children and youth in countries where there is war, violence, and poverty, such as El Salvador, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, and Vietnam.
Bible Societies in these countries are endeavouring to reach out to them with the Word of God to bring Hope into their lives, enable them to engage with the Bible, and to help end Bible Poverty.
Here is how your gift will support the Bible Societies in these countries:
- Bible Society of El Salvador – distribute 10,000 Bible-based comics called Fear Not to youths in the country and introduce a peer-to-peer conflict resolution programme into 30 schools.
- Bible Society of Syria – distribute 54,000 age-appropriate Christmas and Easter Scriptures to children through Sunday schools and churches in the Syria.
- Palestinian Bible Society – distribute 15,000 children’s Bibles and Scriptures, 6,000 colouring and activity books, and 5,000 toys to children in the country.
- Bible Society Vietnam – distribute 2,000 Revised Vietnamese Version Bibles and 2,000 Vietnamese Bibles (1925 version) to 12 to 25-year-olds.
Yes, I would like to help bring Bibles to young people in El Salvador, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, and Vietnam.
One of the poorest countries in Latin America, El Salvador is known for its high murder rate and gang violence, which have already forced thousands to flee the country. As recently as the weekend of 25 – 27 March 2022, gangs murdered 87 people compelling the government to declare a state of emergency in the country.
In a society such as this one, children and young people are growing up with constant fear and anxiety. The Bible Society of El Salvador is working to address these issues by distributing a Bible-based comic entitled Fear Not. At the heart of the comic is a boy named Samuel who encounters Jesus, and is transformed into a superhero, Sama.
Sama is then thrust into an adventure to bring a message of Hope to the lost people who live in the Land of the Desolate. As Sama is equipped with the Word of God and the Shield of Faith, he must overcome his fears, battle his old ways, and ultimately learn to trust in God’s power as he fights against the powers of evil.
Christopher is 12-years-old. He lives with his dad, mum, and brother. “In my free time I do my homework and play with my phone,” says Christopher. He received a Fear Not comic through his church. “My favourite part of the comic is when Sama loses his fear by praying and asking God for help. I applied it to my life. It worked! I feel free of fears. With the help of the comic, I now feel closer to God,“ says Christopher.
Likewise, Derek, who lives with his mum and sister and who attends a Christian school, received a Fear Not comic. “What struck me most about the comic is when Sama fights against his past, and his bad memories. I identified with him because I have not had such a beautiful past. I learned that when Sama met God, he overcame all his fears and the bad things that had happened to him. Now, I, too, have overcome my past. Today, I feel like a renewed and happy person,” says Derek.
This year, Bible Society aims to distribute 10,000 Fear Not comics. They have developed guides which equip teachers to make the most of the material. They have also introduced a conflict-resolution model into schools whereby teachers can help students learn peer-to-peer conflict resolution. The programme will be introduced into 30 schools.
In Syria, despite the fact that some communities are no longer subject to active fighting, the population is still under great duress. Hundreds of thousands were killed in the war, and 13.5 million were displaced. The country’s cities and infrastructure have been destroyed. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a big impact.
Around 5.6 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, including 4 million children. This situation is only projected to get worse as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is raising concerns that critical wheat imports from either Ukraine or Russia may be impacted. Inflation is already at 140 percent with the prices of basic commodities and fuel going up.¹
As well, the Christian population is under pressure. The percentage of Christians in Syria has dropped from 10-12 percent at the beginning of the civil war to less than five percent today. The Bible Society of Syria is reaching out to Christian children through Sunday schools and churches with Christmas and Easter Scriptures to nurture and strengthen them in their faith. This year, it aims to distribute 54,000 age-appropriate Scriptures.
Recently, it ran events at churches in Homs, Damascus, and Aleppo City. Here, the children did activities such as face painting, listening to stories, watching a puppet show, and having their photo taken with “Jesus”. “The atmosphere was one of joy and happiness,” a Bible Society representative said.
The Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian Bible Society serves in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Here, children make up 2.3 million out of a total of 4.8 million residents. Life for families who live here is a struggle. In 2017, 14 percent of the population in the West Bank was living in poverty. In 2021, the unemployment rate was 21 percent.
Children’s lives are impacted in many ways through poverty including limiting their access to education and amenities, such as clean water and healthcare. Many children leave school early to work and provide for their families.
In the West Bank, less than one percent of the population identify as Christian, the majority of whom live in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. Over the past 70 years the number of Palestinian Christians has declined ten-fold. For example, in 1950, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was 86 percent Christian. By 2016, the Christian population of Bethlehem had dropped to 12 percent, a mere 11,000 people.2 The number of Christians is continuing to decline today as people leave the region seeking a better life elsewhere.
Partnering with churches, the Palestinian Bible Society is reaching out to Christian children and youth through its Child of Bethlehem project to strengthen them in their faith. Led by a team of regional directors and volunteers, Child of Bethlehem seeks to unite children and youth from different churches under the banner of the Bible.
The programme involves running biblical trips, conferences, Bible camps, puppet shows, school programmes, and special events at Christmas and Easter. This year, they ran an event for over 600 children at Easter in places such as Haifa, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Taybeh, and Jenin. They also provided training for scout leaders at their new academy in Jericho to grow the spiritual side of local scout groups’ programmes.
In 2022, they aim to distribute 15,000 children’s Bibles and Scriptures, 6,000 colouring and activity books, and 5,000 toys.
Vietnam is a communist country where around 86 percent of the population purport to have no religious affiliation. However, seven percent of the population identify as Christian. Among this group are children and youth under 24-years-old, who make up 38 percent of Vietnam’s population.
Bible Society Vietnam is seeking to bring Bibles and Scriptures to children and youth. It organises free Christmas distributions to poor children living in mountainous areas.
It organises Scripture engagement activities such as Bible reading, Bible studies, and Bible contests for youth. It also provides Bibles to college students through Christian Student Fellowships.
Viktor (whose name has been changed) was born into a non-Christian family. When he was a child, he followed a cousin to church. He loved it. He kept going every Sunday morning. One time, his father found out, and he got very angry. “My father beat me with a wooden rod and dragged me home. He forbade me to go to church again,” remembers Viktor.
But that did not stop Viktor. He went to church whenever he could. His cousin gave him a small copy of the Vietnamese New Testament and he treasured it. Because of its small size, Viktor could put the New Testament into his pocket when he went to the field to tend the cattle. “When the cows were eating grass, I could pull the book out of my pocket and start reading. I just fell in love with the Word,” says Viktor.
But again, his little secret was found out. Viktor’s father snatched the New Testament, threw it down on the floor and cut it in two using a big knife. “It was my first Bible and seeing that broke my heart,” says Viktor.
Today, Viktor is a student studying Theology in Hanoi. He longs to serve in ministry. When he has spare time, he uses his pocket money to buy necessities like bread or water to give to the poor and homeless.
Recently, Viktor received a Revised Vietnamese Version Bible from Vietnam Bible Society. He could not hide his joy. “Thank you very much for this gift. I think this is a gift from God to encourage me to keep trusting in the Word and going ahead. This Bible will be with me for a long time,” says Viktor.
In 2022, Bible Society Vietnam aims to distribute 2,000 Revised Vietnamese Version Bibles along with 2,000 Vietnamese Bibles (1925 version). These will be distributed to 12 to 25-year-olds from the poorest households, who faithfully go to church but cannot afford a Bible themselves.
Will you prayerfully consider helping bring Bibles to children and youths?
Just use your preferred giving option below to help bring Bibles to young people in El Salvador, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, and Vietnam.
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