Alone on the Streets of Uganda, One Boy Found Healing in God’s Word

This article was adapted from one originally posted by the American Bible Society.

Kiho*, a ten-year-old boy from eastern Uganda, sat speechless in a small classroom. Facilitators of a Bible-based trauma healing session—organized for young victims of disaster and abuse—smiled next to him. The facilitators could tell he had something to say. They just didn’t know how to reach him.

Eventually, Kiho burst into tears and began sharing his story.

More than a decade earlier, Kiho’s mother had conceived Kiho with another man while her husband served in the Ugandan military. When her husband returned from active duty, he vowed to stick with her—but only if she abandoned Kiho. She agreed.

With nowhere to go, Kiho moved in with his uncle. But life in his new home proved difficult. He wore the same clothes every day. He dropped out of school. And he rummaged through abandoned gardens, markets and homes in search of food.

After years of wandering through life with little guidance or care, Kiho arrived at the trauma healing course. Sessions like this one regularly take place in Uganda and throughout the Great Lakes Region of Africa, thanks to the support of generous donors.

For Kiho, fighting through his tears and sharing his story helped. But he needed to rely on God for healing. So, with children from the session gathered around him, a facilitator prayed for Kiho. The experience made a life-changing impact on his life.

“[Praying] set Kiho free,” one facilitator says. “He became so free he started participating in the class.

By reading God’s Word, Kiho learned to identify his pain, share his hurt, release his suffering and even forgive his mother for abandoning him. In a lament, he asked God for wisdom—and the strength to face the future. At the conclusion of the course, facilitators helped Kiho get his young life on track by re-enrolling him in primary school. They even gifted him a set of school supplies.

Even though he endured a childhood of turmoil and distress, Kiho has experienced freedom in God’s Word.

*Name has been changed

What Happens When a Village Gets the Bible in its Heart Language?

This article was originally posted by the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Though Christianity had been part of their culture for 100 years, there was no Bible in the Beembe language. It took 20 years of dedicated translation work for them to get a Beembe Bible – but when they did, they showed us how to party…

Imagine fumbling through a dense, tricky text in a second language. You can read it, but it’s hard. You understand in part, but you can't quite capture the meaning. This was the case for the Beembe people of Congo Brazzaville, who only had access to Bibles their second language: French.

Lost in translation

‘For me, the problem with the Bible in French was that I had trouble understanding certain concepts and words. So I didn’t read the Bible very often,’ 54-year-old farmer, Pierrette, explains.

Pierrette’s experience isn’t rare. For many people reading the Bible in a second language, the challenge of understanding is significant. But not only that, they’re not experiencing the message of the Bible in the words they can relate to; the words they use in their thoughts, their hearts.

A word in season

More than 1,000 people gathered for the ceremony to launch the first ever Beembe New Testament in early 2014. Elders banged drums and shook rattles. Young dance troupes performed energetic routines. People cheered.

Though Christianity has been part of the Beembe culture for 100 years, this was the first time the community had Scripture in their language. And the joy was palpable.

‘Now we have our own Beembe New Testament, I am very happy,’ Pierrette says.’ It will help us strengthen the faith of our children, who will discover a deeper relationship with God.’

Decades of dedication

Jacques Mberi is the man behind the Beembe Bible. He has spent decades poring over Hebrew and Greek, considering the best ways to convey the meaning of each verse  – especially when there’s not always a direct translation.

He smiled through tears as he said, ‘I am like Simeon, who waited years and years until he could see the Lord Jesus, and then once he did, he could die. I have worked hard to see this translation finished. It is my child, my pride and joy.’

Completing the task

Now the Beembe people have asked to have the Old Testament translated into their language and Jacques is already on the case.

But until then, we’re celebrating that this people group are now experiencing the New Testament in the language they most love and truly understand.

Find out more about funding similar projects around the world

62-year-old Mbambouloulu Evelyne clutched her Beembe New Testament and said, ‘I am delighted with this New Testament. It touches my soul. It allows me to feel closer to God, and I give thanks to God for this precious gift.’

Overcoming Tribulation: Take Heart

This article was first published in the March 2013 issue of Word@Work.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). However, in the same sentence, He tells us to “take heart” in this world of tribulation. While tribulation and suffering is inevitable, Jesus has “overcome the world” through us. As ambassadors of Christ on earth, Christians have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to stand in the gap and help those who are suffering. The Bible Society of Singapore and United Bible Societies have responded to this calling diligently.

Tribulation and suffering in this world come in many forms. Blindness, disease and hunger are some examples. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 34 million people now live with HIV/AIDS and 3.3 million of them are below the age of 15. 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. 868 million people or 12.5 per cent of the global population were undernourished between 2010-12. Most of those suffering from the above afflictions live in developing countries.

Bible Societies around the world have been reaching out in love to these people, providing them with Bibles so that they may experience God’s love. Bible Societies have also provided donations, infrastructure, education, spiritual and emotional support to those in need, helping to improve their quality of life.

Lives Touched by UBS

Daifa, 10, from China, was abandoned by her parents when she was born blind. Adopted by a home for the disabled at six, she became fearful and distrusting of others. Daifa learned to read Braille and was provided with Braille Scripture from the China Christian Council (CCC) and UBS.

Daifa mentioned seeing God as her “Father in heaven, just like a father on earth,” and Jesus as her “best Friend”. She even has plans to become a pastor when she grows up.

These are just some examples of how the United Bible Societies (UBS) is teaching the blind how to read Braille, providing them with Braille Scripture and encouraging many blind people to be trained in life skills so that they can earn a living.

Bible Societies have helped in areas experiencing chronic hunger. Simon, a young boy from a village in Lodwar, had been living in poverty even before Lodwar was hit by drought. His schooling was hindered as his father had no money to buy any of the textbooks. He often went to bed hungry. After the drought, the family struggled even more as they lost most of their goats: their main food source.

The Bible Society of Kenya took steps to reach out to the people of Lodwar who, like Simon’s family, were unable to produce enough crops or livestock to feed themselves. They managed to deliver 11 tonnes of food which was distributed to 500 needy families. They followed up by sending Bibles to these families who hunger for God’s Word.

UBS is working to bring hope to those suffering from HIV through its Good Samaritan programme. This ministry helps those with HIV come to terms with their situation and encourages them to open up. Winnie Ncongwane from Swaziland received ministry through the Good Samaritan programme.

When Winnie became pregnant, she felt unwell. She discovered that she had contracted HIV from her unfaithful husband. Winnie urged her husband to test for HIV, and when he tested positive for the virus, he turned violent towards her. Winnie’s husband passed away while their daughter (who was HIV negative) was only a few years old.

While searching for support, Winnie started volunteering at the Bible Society of Swaziland, where she first heard about the Good Samaritan programme. Going through this programme sparked a turnaround for her life.

Winnie learnt to be open about her illness, and not hide in the darkness of shame and secrecy. This helped her to deal with her issues and she could help others with the same problems. She spent much time reading the Bible, and found hope and God’s peace. Now, Winnie is employed with an organisation which fights tuberculosis, and continues to volunteer with the Bible Society of Swaziland.

The Work Carries On

However much has been done through our missions efforts to benefit those who are suffering in the dark, marginalised and oppressed by society, much more still remains to be done. There are millions of people with HIV or AIDs and other fatal illnesses living lives of hopelessness, poverty and hunger. Millions more around the world suffer from vision impairment or blindness, but the Bible in Braille currently only exists in 40 out of around 7,000 languages, and audio Scripture distribution is similarly inadequate.

The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) is doing its part to let those with visual impairment gain access to the Bible. Our Word Intake for Spiritual Edification (WISE) programme encourages the regular hearing of God’s Word through audio Scripture. We have recorded solar-powered audio Scripture in many languages, and these devices have proven very helpful in reaching the blind locally and abroad, especially in rural areas.

BSS has also been helping the less fortunate who do not have access to God’s Word through Bible Distribution Trips. In 2012, we made four trips to Nanjing, Anhui, Myanmar and Cambodia. We rejoiced in witnessing many who received with tears of joy their personal copy of God’s Word. We made trips to countries struck by disaster, like Indonesia and Philippines, to bring hope through the replacement of lost Bibles for free.

Despite the suffering present in the world today, we should still take heart, for the Lord is able to overcome tribulation through the help of His people. We ask that you prayerfully consider joining us in bringing alleviation to a world of suffering.

Scripture distribution remains steady around the world

This article was first published by United Bible Societies.

Bible distribution tops 34 million in 2015

The number of Bibles distributed by Bible Societies around the world has topped 34 million for the first time. Altogether, 34,396,611 full Bibles were distributed across the Fellowship in 2015 – an increase of just under 1.5% on 2014’s distribution total.

Including Testaments, Gospels and other smaller Scripture items, Bible Societies distributed a total of 418.7 million Scriptures in 2015. That’s slightly down on last year’s total – but still up 14% from distribution efforts back in 2010.

The figures are compiled from annual Scripture distribution numbers reported by Bible Societies around the world, and include local sales and exports of Scripture material*.

* Data was collected between February and March 2016. 79% of Bible Societies responded. In the case of non-respondents, the previous three years’ average data was given as their 2015 distribution data.

Global Scripture distribution in 2015


Meeting demand in the Middle East

Scripture distribution in Europe and the Middle East soared in 2015, up by nearly 50% compared to the previous year. It’s the region that’s seen the biggest rise in global Scripture distribution, reflecting the tremendous effort to meet demand for God’s word among those affected by war, violence and conflict.

In total, 8.4 million Scriptures were distributed within the region during 2015, including 1.8 million Bibles. That’s double what Bible Societies distributed in 2013, before so-called Islamic State began its brutal campaign in Iraq and Syria.

In particular, Bible distribution across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – the five countries affected most by conflict and the resulting migration of people – rose by a staggering 88% between 2014 and 2015.


Bible Society’s bookshop in Syria is always full of people wanting Scripture material, particularly young people.
Bible Society’s bookshop in Syria is always full of people wanting Scripture material, particularly young people.

There’s been a surge in demand for smaller Scripture items, like calendars and booklets, which can be transported and distributed easily by Bible Societies’ network of volunteers. The total Scripture items distributed in Iraq alone has gone up seven-fold in 12 months, and Bible Society in Jordan distributed three times the number of Scriptures in 2015 than in the previous year.

The director of Bible Society in Syria, whose name remains confidential for his safety, said, “The thirst for Scriptures among Christians here has only increased with the unrest. The past five years have been very traumatic. Every family has a sad story. With this loss of hope, people are turning to God’s word for comfort and encouragement.”

More than 44 million Bibles for Brazil

More Bibles continue to be distributed in Brazil than in any country in the world. In 2015, 7.6 million Bibles were distributed here – more than twice the number distributed in China, the country with the second-highest figures.

Since 2010, more than 44 million full Bibles have been made available in Brazil, enough for almost a quarter of the population.


Millions of Bibles have been given out through Brazil’s large-scale and effective outreach work. Photo: Drew Hood
Millions of Bibles have been given out through Brazil’s large-scale and effective outreach work. Photo: Drew Hood

RS5972_BRA05DJ-16-scrRudi Zimmer, Bible Society of Brazil’s Executive Director, said, “Our Society has always been characterised by the outreach work it develops for populations facing situations of vulnerability and social risk, where the Word of God comes as a breath of hope and solace.”

Brazil is also home to one of the largest printing plants dedicated to producing Bibles and New Testaments – and in 2015 this Bible Press celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Scripture distribution in the Americas outstrips Scripture distribution across the rest of the world by a long way. A third of a billion Scriptures were distributed in this region in 2015; that’s 10 items every second. In fact, it’s slightly less than 2014, but an increase of 15% since 2010. The distribution of full Bibles in the Americas has been consistently around 14.5 million for the last three years.


Focus on full Bibles in Africa

These villagers in Ghana received Bibles during 2015, thanks to Bible Societies’ commitment to providing full Bibles.
These villagers in Ghana received Bibles during 2015, thanks to Bible Societies’ commitment to providing full Bibles.

More than three-quarters of Scripture items distributed across Africa in 2015 have been full Bibles, demonstrating Bible Societies’ commitment to making the complete Bible available to people on this continent.

By comparison, across the world 8% of all Scripture distributed by Bible Societies have been full Bibles.

Scripture distribution overall in Africa was at its lowest point since 2010. But the distribution of full Bibles has never been higher than in 2015 – climbing 36% since 2010.


Fuelling the Church in Asia

Scripture distribution in the world’s most populous region, where only 6% of people are Christians, has been steady. India and the Philippines both achieved their highest ever distribution of Scripture in 2015, with 30.8 million and 15.5 million Scriptures made available respectively.

China remains the world’s second-largest distributor of Bibles, providing approximately 4.5 million Scriptures in 2015.

Download Global Scripture Distribution Report 2015 Annual Progress Report (pdf 2 MB)