Translations update – 2021

Bible available in more than 700 languages

At the start of 2021, a significant milestone was  reached when the full Bible became available in 704 languages for the first time. Spoken by 5.7 billion people, more than 70% of these translations have been provided by the United Bible Societies! Another 825 million people have the New Testament in their language, and 450 million people have Scripture portions.

However, 75 years ago when the United Bible Societies (UBS) was formed in the wake of World War II, the Bible translation landscape looked very different. At that time fewer than 200 languages had the full Bible, 230 had the New Testament, and 620 had Scripture portions.

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Holding History

I’ve always loved history. I can spend hours walking around an historical site or looking at artefacts in a museum.

There’s a strange kind of connection with the past you feel when you see something several hundred years old. A person who lived all those years ago owned that item, and now I am looking at the very thing they held in their hands. I often wonder what life was like for that person.

Recently, my historical research into the history of the Bible in Māori took me to the Alexander Turnbull Library here in Wellington. I requested a special book, which I wanted to see – the corrected proof copy of the first ever New Testament in Māori. It was William Williams’ copy, who worked with others including his brother Henry on the original translation.

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Surviving the tough times

This year, you have helped the United Bible Societies fellowship survive one of the worst periods in its history.

At the start of 2020 no one could have predicted how the world would be impacted by Covid-19! 

By March or April Bible Societies all over the world were struggling as lockdown restrictions hit and Scripture sales and distribution plummeted. Thirty Bible Societies were quickly classified as ‘critical’ and a further 65 were considered to be ‘at risk’ of closure. 

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New Testament bring joy

In a year marked with many challenges, the launch of two New Testaments in southern Nigeria has brought joy to the people of Ogbia and Epie.

In September 2020, Covid-19 restrictions had eased sufficiently so that Bible Society was able to organise two dedication services, one on the 22nd September for the Ogbia New Testament and one on the 23rd September for the Epie New Testament. 

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Gearing up for 175!

I was fortunate enough to attend the American Bible Society’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 2016.

This was a huge event held at the top of the ‘Rocky steps’ in Philadelphia. Later that week, I was given this magnificent gift – a copy of the entire New Testament on a single sheet of paper. And yes, the font is small!

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175 years; the untold story

When planning how to celebrate 175 years of Bible mission, we were unanimous – we needed to tell stories.

Stories that show the impact the Bible has had on peoples’ lives. Stories that document the role Bible Society has played in the spread of the Gospel message in New Zealand. And stories that reveal the passion and dedication for God’s Word held by Christians all over the country.

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Covid-19 brings new challenges to mission

In response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bible Societies around the world are finding new ways to reach out to people.

Here are a few of their stories.


The Bible Society of Ukraine is providing New Testaments to go with emergency food parcels provided by churches. These will be distributed to elderly people living alone, or to disadvantaged families. It’s been running a daily Gospel video on its Facebook page, which thousands of people have been tuning into under lockdown, with many subsequent enquires about purchasing Bibles.

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Bible for Police launch

The special-edition Bible for the Police, which many of you helped to fund, was launched at Bible House in Wellington on 29th July 2020. 

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Supporter’s update – Covid-19 season

Message from the CEO

Tēnā koutou Friends,

Wherever you may find yourself today, let’s give thanks to our Lord for His undeserved grace and favour we experience. I want to encourage you to find and celebrate just one thing each day that you’re thankful for and celebrate that in giving Him the glory.

Here at Bible Society, we want to take this opportunity to thank you, our partners in mission, for your faithfulness in helping us realise our mission of helping make the Bible accessible to everyone and encouraging interaction with it.

Although we can’t be with you in person to thank you directly, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to watch the short video below; so that I can extend my gratitude to you and share how your support allowed the Bible Society mission to continue throughout the Covid-19 season.

Know that we also remember you in our prayers, trusting God to lead us all through and out of this season.

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Reflections on the promises of God

Our free gift to you

As representatives of God’s Word in Aotearoa New Zealand, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Bible Society New Zealand took an active role to alleviate the growing sense of fear and anxiety many were experiencing across the country.

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