Scripture Soothes a Hurting Teenager’s Heart in Cambodia

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

Excited to have her own Bible, a 15-year-old learns more about God...

Doeun Chin Lan has experienced a lot of loss.

"My mother died when I was little," explains the 15-year-old. "I don't even remember her face. All my older siblings left me to work in Thailand. My father is very elderly and poor.…I want to see my whole family together again."

When the message of God's love came to the small village where Doeun lives, her heart finally began to heal.

"I am very happy that God loves me," she says. "Whether I am in the countryside, in the forest or anywhere, God still loves me."

Doeun says she enjoys hearing stories about God at church. "But sometimes I don't understand," she admits. "When I heard they were going to give out Bibles, I was very happy."

"My Bible is small and easy to carry around and the writing is easy to understand. I believe this Bible will help me know God better. My father can't read so I want to read to him so that he can also put his faith in God."

For many Cambodians, especially poor farmers living in rural areas, obtaining a Bible requires much sacrifice. It takes months to save money for a Bible. But thanks to generous donors, Doeun and others have Bibles of their very own!

Please pray for others like Doeun who still need to know about God and engage in His Word in Cambodia. Ask that Scriptures will be made available in different media so that the entire population, especially the youth, will understand and experience the love of God.

Lives changed through Bible literacy classes

This article was adapted from one originally published by British and Foreign Bible Society.

Our counterparts in Pakistan are working to bring the Bible to life for 7,000 women in 2016 by teaching them to read. Will you help?
It costs just S$40 to help teach a woman to read and give her a New Testament.

AratiArati* was a cotton picker in rural Pakistan. She worked long hours to earn around S$2 a day. She was being cheated out of payment but didn’t know it – she couldn’t read the scales that weighed her cotton.

But at our literacy class the Bible changed Arati’s life for good. As she read the Bible for the first time, she met Jesus, discovered His love, and learnt that her life mattered.

Arati said, ‘Jesus died for us and there’s no one in the world who has died and rose again. We appreciate this love.’

Now I am literate, I feel empowered.

Today Arati teaches young children in her village to read. And since learning to read she’s realised the cotton traders were cheating her and others out of their wages.

She said, ‘After studying I read the scale and I knew the actual weight of the cotton and now the men can’t cheat us. Now I am literate, I feel empowered.

Seven families in Arati’s village have become Christians since our literacy programme started.

‘There’s a big change in our village since the start of our literacy class’ Arati told us, ‘We are very happy and my family is very happy.’

Will you help more women like Arati learn to read?

Change for good

Arati is just one example of a life changed for good through the Bible. Through our literacy classes many women like Arati learn that their lives matter as God speaks to them through the Bible.

Just S$40 can help teach a Pakistani woman to read and give her a New Testament.

Your support could help teach Pakistani women to read and bring the Bible to life for them and their families. Will you join us in teaching more women like Arati to read?

*name changed

Stories of Change

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Have you been touched by the mission work of The Bible Society of Singapore over the years?

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You and your community have played such an important role in the Bible Mission and we want to hear YOUR stories! As a token of our appreciation, you'll even receive a special commemorative item!

Two Pioneers, One Bible Mission

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

A Rich Heritage

Sir Stamford Raffles, Supporter of the Bible Mission

An appeal for Bibles by soldiers drew the immediate attention of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) to Java back in 1813. This request brought about the introduction of the Society’s work to the then Lieutenant Governor Stamford Raffles.

BFBS resolved to send 500 Dutch Bibles, 1000 Testaments, 300 English Bibles and 500 English Testaments to Raffles with a letter, in the care of three missionaries from the London Missionary Society (LMS). The letter dated 22 November 1813 requested that “His Excellency will have the goodness to give directions that they be placed in the hands of proper persons to distribute the same….”

On 10 March 1814, Rev William Milne from LMS, who later assisted Rev Dr Robert Morrison with the complete translation of the Chinese Bible, arrived in Java. Milne had the opportunity to meet Raffles and secured his help to “do all they consistently could to forward” his cause. Raffles even granted him the use of the Government Press. Raffles’ support for the work led to him being appointed as the President of the Java Auxiliary Bible Society on 4 June 1814.

As the Lord would have it, Raffles’ interest in supporting the work increased when he returned to England in 1817. He had the opportunity to correspond with the Society even more. Letters from our Society archive showed that Raffles was all for supporting the Malay translation work and he personally leaned towards a preference for the translation to low Malay.

Upon his return to the region as Governor of Sumatra, Raffles personally offered to bring Bibles with him. He wasted little time in setting up an office there, becoming the first President of the Sumatra Auxiliary Bible Society in 1818.

Rev Dr Robert Morrison, Pioneer of the Bible Mission Work in Singapore

We thank God for His Sovereign hand that guided Raffles to establish the settlement in Singapore in 1819. Just four years later, it was reported to BFBS that,

“Dr Morrison has communicated … the cheering information, that 1,000 Chinese New Testaments had just been applied for by the missionaries of a new settlement formed at Sincapore in the year 1819.”

This started the Bible mission work in Singapore and one could also say, the distribution of Chinese Scripture here.

BFBS granted Morrison and other missionaries in Malacca the 1000 pounds needed to print the Chinese Scriptures.

Singapore’s Strategic Location for the Storage of Bibles

The work of distribution of Bibles grew rapidly due to Singapore’s strategic location. By 1825, it was recognised that a Bible depot was needed to store and facilitate the distribution of the Scriptures to the region. The early Bible depot was moved to several places, until it found its permanent home in 1907 at Armenian Street.

Bible Mission History Woven Together with Singapore’s Institutions

Both Morrison and Raffles were pioneers in many different areas, including education. In April 1823, Raffles spoke to Morrison about his vision for a ‘Sincapore Institution’ and convinced the latter to move the Anglo Chinese College from Malacca to Singapore. What was not often written about was the motivation both these men had behind the setting up of this centre of learning – it was to advance the Bible mission.

‘India beyond the Ganges and Eastern Asia, at no former period seems to have been pregnant with greater changes than at present … we should look out whether a knowledge of the languages and characters of the people ought not to be cultivated, in order that we may have Agents prepared to act whenever safe openings occur. Instead of one or two persons learned in Chinese should we not at least have  a dozen? The Siamese and Cochin-Chinese are populous and I am not away that any Protestant Missionary has ever been among them.’ 
- Statement of Sir Stamford Raffles as reported in the 22nd Annual Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (1826), p 122

Raffles reported the formation of the Sincapore Institution with its aim for the ‘cultivation of the language in Eastern Asia’. This Institution was to become Raffles Institution and a library, with the collection of books and papers that would spawn into our National Library.

We see Morrison’s desire to spread the good news from the following report in BFBS’ documents.

‘The Anglo Chinese College is about to be removed from Malacca to Sincapore, a situation which will afford several facilities for the distribution of Scriptures; for by the many native vessals which visit that port, copies may be sent to Cochin-China; and, perhaps, to Japan itself.’
- 20th Annual Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (1824), p. lviii

These two men also advocated strongly for a permanent Agent to be sent to Singapore to advance the Bible Society’s work here. While an Agent was not appointed until 1882, the work continued to flourish as it was not dependent on any one person. The early Bible mission work was supported by men and women from various parts of the body all working in unity to spread the good news through the work of translation, publishing, distribution, literacy programmes and engagement.

It is heartening to see that by God’s grace, 190 years later, the work of The Bible Society of Singapore continues today, not only to make the Word Available (through Translation and Publishing) and Accessible (through Distribution and Literacy Programmes) but also to show that the Word is Credible (through Engagement and Advocacy).

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)

One year after Nepal earthquake ‘Christians have remained strong’

This article was originally written by United Bible Societies.

Nearly a year after three earthquakes devastated Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, and surrounding areas, Tej Jirel, General Secretary of the Nepal Bible Society, has been reflecting on how Christians have coped with the tragedy.

“I was in the middle of preaching at a church on April 25 when the first earthquake hit,” recalls Mr Jirel. “I stopped preaching, held onto the pulpit and prayed for the earthquake to stop. Some people dropped to their knees in prayer, and others stood to call out to God.

Shaking really violently 

“That first quake went on for a while. The pulpit fell over and hit the Communion table. The pillars in the church were shaking really violently. As soon as it was over we evacuated the whole congregation and made sure everyone was standing safely away from the building.”

The congregation joined hundreds of people who had come out onto the streets. Some were weeping as aftershocks continued. Mr Jirel and other church leaders reassured people as best they could.

“I felt that, in the midst of all this, we should honour God by going ahead with taking Holy Communion, as we had intended. Between aftershocks, some of us went into the church to bring out the Communion table. So there, outside the church and beside the river, we took Communion in remembrance of what our Lord did for us.”

Powerful and memorable moment

For those present it was a powerful and memorable moment, and typifies the reaction of many Christians to the tragedy caused by the earthquake. Scores of churches were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, and there were around 500 Christians among the 9,000 people who died. Those who survived have remained strong in their faith, according to Mr Jirel and his team, who have travelled to many of the affected districts.

“Church services in all the affected districts resumed almost immediately, despite the fact that they had nothing to shelter under,” comments Mr Jirel. “A lot of them still haven’t yet been completely rebuilt, due to lack of funds, and services are held with no roof, using tarpaulins or roofing sheets to protect worshippers from the sun or rain.

“But people are holding onto their faith. I remember one elderly man I met, Padam Bahadur Bhujel, who had been buried alive, along with other worshippers, when their church building collapsed on them. They were all eventually rescued. Mr Bhujel told me he’d remained calm because he had complete faith that God would save them. He said, ‘If you have great faith in God, He will do great things for you.’ I felt very inspired by that.

“It was quite a shock to see that church reduced to rubble, along with the rest of the village. We’d run two programs there a few years back, one for leaders and another for youth and career development, and I remembered how nice the church building had been. When we visited after the earthquake we found the pastor and his family living in the middle of a field, with no proper food to eat.”

Having witnessed the urgent humanitarian needs of people in the various affected districts, the Bible Society began working to bring them the items they most needed. Over the past year, they have helped provide roofing, tarpaulins and other materials to hundreds of families who lost their homes, most of them non-Christians.

“We as a Bible Society are seen as a neutral platform, and we had excellent co-operation with all sorts of different churches, parachurch organisations and government officials,” notes Mr Jirel.

Much of this material was delivered to people living in remote areas that are hard to access, with Bible Society staff and volunteers walking up mountainsides with the materials on their backs, or transporting it across rivers on small rafts.

“So many people were thankful for the help we brought, because they hadn’t received any other relief materials like this,” says Mr Jirel. “I remember one widow in particular, who thanked us with tears in her eyes. We told them we were Christians. We pray that one day all these people will come to know and accept Christ.”

In addition to offering practical help to everyone who needs it, the Bible Society has also been helping Christians to replace the Scriptures that they lost in the earthquake. Many hundreds of Bibles, Children’s Bibles and Scripture booklets have been distributed to churches and individual Christians.

“We didn’t want Christians to be without their Scriptures as they came to terms with what had happened,” says Mr Jirel. “They greatly appreciated the Bibles and other materials we brought them, which helped them to hold onto hope in the midst of their grief and struggles.

“Without God there is no hope, and we continue to pray for the many people in Nepal who still don’t know Him. Please join us in praying that many good things will come out of this disaster, and that many more people will come to know the true God and Creator.”