‘Reading the Bible in Northern Sámi moves me to tears’

“When I started school, I couldn’t speak a word of Finnish. The older kids helped me out. I only went home at Christmas and when it was time to return to school I cried bitterly.”

“In the spring I fell ill – probably due to my acute homesickness – and I ended up in hospital. Everyone there only spoke Finnish and I had to learn Finnish fast. When I started in Grade 2 I managed better.”

This is the story of Helena Valkeapää (pictured right) from Finnish Lapland, who started school after World War II. In those days, starting school was a traumatic experience for many Sámi children. It meant leaving home and moving into the hostel for the whole school term. Children were expected to learn in a language that they did not understand. continue reading →


Bible Societies facing immense pressure

From Genesis to Revelation many Bible stories took place in the countries that we know today as Iraq and Turkey.

The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:14 NIV).

Turkey and Iraq are countries that share a land border and are part of the Fertile Crescent region, including the major river system formed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Their towns and place names are found throughout the Bible.

For example, Abraham came from the city of Ur in Iraq. He migrated to Haran in southern Turkey and settled there (Genesis 11:31). Jacob’s sons were all born in Iraq. The city of Nineveh in the Book of Jonah is in Iraq, and events from the books of Esther and Daniel took place there. Even the Garden of Eden was in Iraq. continue reading →


Great news from Syria!

It’s sometimes the case that in the most terrible of times, good things emerge. We see that message threaded through the Bible: amid the most dire situations, God brings good. And it’s still the testimony of God’s people today…

Do you remember the terrible news reports of bombing, gas attacks and desperate refugees coming from Syria? We’ve had an update from George, the General Secretary of Bible Society in Syria (pictured right), which we’re delighted to share with you.

“The war has led people to Christ,” George said. “No one would have believed this when the conflict began! God has used events that people created for something good.”

Although half of Christians in Syria fled during the war, Bible sales went up. Many houses in Aleppo were destroyed by rockets but the Bible Society bookshop was spared. Its doors have stayed open every day of the war to serve the needs of all Syrians.

When asked who is reading all these Bibles when so many Christians have gone George said, “Isn’t it obvious? It’s everyone else. Those who have belonged to another religion are in search of the truth – and they find it in the Bible.”

The Bible Society’s busy year in Syria

August was, as usual, very hot in Syria but this did not stop the Bible Society from holding a Sunday-School Teacher’s Training Seminar for 60 new teachers in a village called Mashta el-Helou on coast. Simultaneously, another 50 teachers attendeda training event in Homs.  Nabil Saad, Programmes Coordinator was excited by the response. “You should have seen the enthusiasm among the teachers being students and the way that they responded to the lecturers from both Syria and Lebanon. We are blessed to work with the very best when it comes to teaching others,” he said. “It is not only a matter of imparting Biblical knowledge to the young children attending Sunday-School in churches across the country, but the true goal is to see how the children enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.”

Biggest book fair in Syria

Since May, the Bible Society staff have been preparing for the largest book fair in Syria, and the second largest in the Arab World. Happening right now, this will be the Bible Society’s 29th year of attending the fair. Up to one million visitors are expected, and Bible Society’s stand there will require more than 11 staff and volunteers to manage and ensure those that come to learn about the Bible have a great experience.

Distribution still key activity

Nabil reports that Bible distribution is still their key activity in Syria.

“In July we gathered colleagues and volunteers from many churches to receive intensive Bible training during a few days at a Syriac Orthodox Campsite in Kessab, northern Syria. Some of the best Bible teachers in Syria had volunteered to share what the Bible is all about and how to make it come alive for others,” Nabil shared.

This is an important event for the Bible Society who utilises a network of volunteers who work long hours every year during the big Scripture distribution times at Christmas and Easter. Nabil says they regularly report that people all over Syria keep asking for Bibles as people are hungry and thirsty for his Word.

Thank you to all of our supporters who continue to pray and give towards this vital mission in Syria. The team there are very grateful for you all.

No words can describe our true joy being involved with the work that God’s given us to do in our homeland Syria, but we keep on reminding ourselves what the Lord said in the Gospel of Saint Luke: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few! Nabil Saad, Bible Society in Syria.


More Bibles says China – millions still waiting

Across China people are seeking for, drawing from and being convicted by the Bible!

In rural areas and cities alike the Bible is sought after like never before. Officially, the number of Christians in China is 46 million but unofficially the figure is around 100 million.

The Amity Printing Press, situated in Nanjing, is printing Bibles for Chinese Christians, but the demand is hard to keep up with. Particularly, there is a great need for funding for Bible paper, which enables Bibles to be printed at lower prices. These Bibles are either sold at reduced prices or they are given away for free to believers in poorer, rural regions, or to ethnic minorities living in the mountainous regions.

The Amity Printing Press has seen many milestones, including ten million Bibles printed by 1995, 100 million Bibles printed by 2012, and 200 million Bibles printed by 2019. continue reading →


Vietnam’s ethnic minorities long for the Bible

Many of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups are marginalised and at the bottom of the rung economically and in terms of literacy rates.

Yet, it’s among these marginalised groups that Christianity has often taken a hold. This is why the Vietnam Bible Society is undertaking the critical task of translating the Bible into their various heart languages.

Hmong women in a rural village in Laos.

The Hmong

The Hmong people live in Vietnam’s northern highlands.  In the 1980s, the Hmong stumbled across a Hmong-language Christian radio programme being broadcast from Manila.  Soon, Christianity spread like wildfire through the Hmong population. Today, 300,000 out of the one million Hmong living in Vietnam is Christian. continue reading →


United Bible Societies launches new Romani Bible app

After a long digitisation project, United Bible Society (UBS) has just launched a brand new mobile app for Romani speakers.

Members of the Romani church in Leskovac, Serbia, with copies of the Gospel of Mark in Romani received from the Bible Society of Serbia on April 17, 2011.

The app contains 21 historic and current Romani Scriptures in Latin script, with Cyrillic texts coming soon.  The earliest Romani Scripture in the app is from 1837 in Calo of Spain/Portugal. The app also includes some audio versions.

The versions are in different forms of Romani such as Calo, Lavari, Kalderash, Vlax and Sinti from England, France, Iberia (Spain-Portugal), Germany, the Baltic region, Scandinavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and former Yugoslavia… and even one from Chile. continue reading →


Project update – Domestic violence prevention in Guatemala

Yes! There is a solution to domestic violence in Guatemala.

Thanks to the generosity of Bible Society New Zealand’s Bible a Month Club supporters, we have been able to support a life-changing domestic violence prevention programme in Guatemala, a country with very high rates of domestic violence.

During the first six months of 2019, 602 families and 1,021 children participated in three workshops on the prevention of child abuse. These workshops are built on biblical principles and values. Eleven schools and churches located in vulnerable areas have also opened their doors for the project. The most amazing result from this has been the interest in the Bible shown by children. Many have formed reading clubs and some teachers are including the Bible in their classes as a reading text. continue reading →


Australian Bible historian to give lecture in Wellington

Respected Australian historian, author and broadcaster Meredith Lake is visiting Wellington

Public lecture: Race and the Bible Down Under

The Bible arrived down under at a time when Europeans were rethinking both Scripture and race. From land-hungry colonists to Indigenous evangelists, white supremacists to anti-racism activists – people across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have read it very differently, with nothing less than humanity at stake.

This lecture will explore how the Bible has been taken up down under, to contest what it means to be human and to cross cultural boundaries – and what we might learn from that today. continue reading →


First meal on the moon: Buzz Aldrin’s moon communion

Almost everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to stand on the moon. Almost everyone knows what Armstrong said: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’

But how many know what Buzz Aldrin did before they stepped out on to the moon’s surface?

Buzz Aldrin

Aldrin was an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. Before the flight he had wondered about how to mark the landing. He wrote in an article for Guideposts magazine in 1970 that his pastor Dean Woodruff had told him ‘God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life’ – like bread and wine. Woodruff gave him a silver chalice to take with him on the flight, and there was just enough gravity for him to be able to pour the wine from a plastic container. continue reading →


Major milestone achieved in first ever Tokelau Bible translation

On Wednesday, after 23 years and one month of work, head translator Ioane Teao and Bible Society Translations Director Dr Stephen Pattemore performed the final check of the final verse of the brand-new Tokelau Bible translation.

“We’re very pleased we’ve come to this part of the project! Yes, we had some fun – we celebrated with some sandwiches, a date scone and some bananas and oranges,” Ioane said.

Ioane Teao (left) and Dr Stephen Pattemore checking the Tokelau translation using the Paratext Bible translation software tool.

The project, which has been a joint effort of all Tokelau churches and community groups, had its genesis nearly 30 years ago. Ioane and others consulted with the wider Tokelauan community for six years before the project could officially start. Ioane was the secretary of the team trying to get the project off the ground and support whoever would do the job. To Ioane’s surprise, it was he who would be asked to spend more than 23 years of his life working on the translation. continue reading →