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Annual Review 2016

Introduction

“…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11

God’s word is alive, powerful and active. Through it, God changes people’s lives, often miraculously. God’s word must ring out across the world to reach people who desperately need the message that he loves them. This core belief is at the heart of Bible Society’s work.

As a member of the United Bible Societies, we contributed last year to the distribution of over 30 million Bibles and hundreds of millions of Scripture portions around the world. We are seeing a concerted global effort to complete the task of Bible translation in every language, and we are excited to see that the end is in sight. Before too long, every tribe and nation could have access to the life-giving Word of God. Thank you for running the race with us towards this wonderful goal.

In 2016, we partnered in 33 projects across the world, including the support of Bible literacy work in South Sudan and South Africa, Bible distribution in Syria and Bible translation and distribution in the islands of the South Pacific. The Scriptures were distributed to those who didn’t have them, the Bible was translated, and support was given to those in need of the Bible’s message of truth, goodness and the unconditional love of Jesus.

In Australia, we have seen progress in Indigenous Bible translation, tens of thousands of Bibles distributed in schools, prisons, hospitals and the Defence Forces, and hundreds of thousands of Bibles sent out through our online Bible shop and the work of Koorong books.

Through Eternity newspaper and the Eternity online platform, we are spreading the good news of what God is doing in Australia and beyond to new audiences. The Centre for Public Christianity continues to offer a gracious and reasonable Christian voice in the public square, using innovative media and excellent scholarship. We are proud to advocate for the goodness, truthfulness and attractiveness of the way of Jesus Christ.

At Bible Society Australia, we are constantly aware that under God we depend on the support of our donors to carry out this work. This year, as we celebrate 200 years of Bible Society work in our nation, we are particularly conscious of everyone who has been part of the journey to advance God’s word in Australia and around the world.

Thank you for your continuing support for the work of the Bible Society, ensuring that God’s word is delivered to people in their heart language, at a price they can afford, and in a format they can use to understand God’s love for them in Jesus.

In the Lord,
Greg Clarke - Signature
Greg Clarke
Group CEO

INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS

33 projects across the world

In 2016 Bible Society Australia supported 33 projects across the world; from China to Syria, from Nicaragua to Kazakhstan, from Egypt to the South Pacific. We engaged in Bible advocacy, Bible distribution, Bible engagement, Bible production, Bible translation, and capacity building with and through Bible Societies across the globe.

Please click on the images below for more information on some of our major projects.

Literacy for the Shilluk People

South Sudan

Literacy for the Shilluk people

In a country with 12-13 million people and 73% of the population unable to read, literacy is a crucial need. The Shilluk people represent one of the top five largest ethnic groups, and are about 45% Christian. The South Sudan Refugee Literacy project will serve the Shilluk and is expected to impact about 6400 people, with literature classes due to commence in 2017.

In 2016, a literacy working group was formed, workshops for volunteer teachers held, and venues for literacy classes were identified. 400 teachers from South Sudan and refugee camps in Uganda were trained to write materials for the literacy classes.

The South Sudan appeal in 2016 met with incredible support from our donors for which we are very grateful.

Literacy and the Bible for children in poverty

South Africa

Literacy and the Bible for children in poverty

In South Africa there are many programmes reaching out to adults who are not functionally literate. Children however, especially in poor areas, are also in dire need of literacy skills. Education in South Africa experiences real challenges, and for these children in particular, is in decline. To promote literacy and Bible literacy among children from preschool to grade 2, the Bible Society of South Africa developed a literacy programme.

In 2016 Bible based literacy material was distributed in four languages - Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and Sesotho. Development and testing of the materials in a further two languages is well underway.

A total of 161,285 booklets were distributed throughout the year, bringing great benefit to 80,000 children. Many encouraging reports have come in from schools and partners across South Africa. All speak of the positive influence and development these resources are having on their students.

At the launch of the Sesotho booklets, Mrs Zanele Mahlangu of the Education Department in the Free State said that the books were found to be beneficial, and looked forward to them contributing "towards (the) holistic development” of the children, in that they will be “ developing them physically, emotionally and spiritually."

Bible Translations for Pacific Islanders

South Pacific

Bible Translations for Pacific Islanders

Many modern churches in the South Pacific are hindered by archaic Bible translations, a myriad of languages without translations and a generation of young people not understanding the importance of Scripture. Some groups of people are biblically illiterate having never had the Gospels in their own native language. This is set against a backdrop of low general literacy rates in some parts of the region.

Bible Society South Pacific has embarked on a 10 year translation project focused on providing new materials to the eastern Pacific Islands.

In 2016 the Kiribati New Version and the Tuvalu Revised Bible were completed and launched with great celebrations in local churches. Many people witnessed the launching of Mark’s Gospel in the Koronubu-Ba language, the first whole book of Scripture to be translated into this language.

In 2016 a further five lessons were translated into Fijian Itaukei from the book “Healing the Wounds of Trauma – How the Church Can Help”, assisting churches to minister to those still traumatised by Cyclone Winston.

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Syria

Bibles to give peace and restore hope

Syria is experiencing one of the worst conflicts in recent times. The country is devastated and millions have fled as refugees, leaving those who remain to face horrific conditions. Bible Society believes that Scripture has the power to offer refuge, give peace, and restore comfort and hope to these people.

In 2016, 25,000 people, including children, youth, elderly, lay people and clergy, received Bibles, New Testaments or Scripture portions. Partnering with local churches, bookshops and monasteries, these resources were distributed throughout all reachable areas of Syria. Due to the war, there were many difficulties transporting and distributing these Scriptures but despite the challenges they faced, staff and partners courageously risked their lives to distribute as many as possible. As they encounter the love of Jesus, these gifts bring hope, restoration and joy to Syrians living through immensely difficult times.

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China

Sunday School for the next generation

Churches in China recognise how vital Sunday Schools are in reaching a new generation of Christians. But with little or no access to essential Scripture materials for the young, many are struggling to share with them about Jesus. The need is most desperate in the poorest rural areas where children from Christian homes can’t access Bible story books and other resources because of their parent’s limited income.

“Children are not just the future of the church, they are also the future of the family and the nation,” says Li Ning, who serves at Endian Grace Church in western Chongqing.

In 2016, 500 copies of Pictorial Bible Stories were given to children across churches. Approximately 6,465 children benefited from a total of 139 Sunday Schools held in the churches across various provinces. Sunday School teacher’s training was held for 160 participants, with Sunday School teachers from over 60 churches attending.

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Vietnam

Bibles in heart languages for remote ethnic minorities

The Bible Society is working hard on three translations to reach ethnic minority groups in remote areas of Vietnam. These people groups have not had the Scriptures in their heart languages and 2016 provided great inroads to rectifying this.

Excellent progress was made with the translations of the New Testaments in Tay and Nung which are both now 100% complete. (The Tay New Testament was launched at the end of April 2017 in Hanoi). The Muong New Testament project is 75% complete and is currently in the checking and reviewing stages.

As there are very few books available in these languages, the Bible will become the main literature resource for these communities and introduce as many as 1 million people to the knowledge and love of Jesus. We are excited and encouraged by the passionate work of the translation teams and Bible Society staff which has seen the completion of the Tay and Nung New Testaments ahead of schedule.

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The Middle East

Lebanon, Israel/Palestine and Syria

Bible Society Australia is partnering with local Bible Societies to present the gospel to children in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq in an attractive format. Middle Eastern Bible Societies believe such work with children has the potential to help the cause of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

In 2016, Bible Society in Lebanon visited 15 schools and churches, and the programmes reached 1,424 children. One of the programmes included the performance of Clown Auguste who performed in 13 schools and reached 3,690 children. Furthermore, 19 schools and 1,907 children visited Bible Society of Lebanon’s Bible World. Over the year, 410 Children’s Bibles, 1,025 New Testaments, and 1,025 DVDs of the ‘Miracle Maker’ were distributed.

In 2016, through the work of the Palestinian Bible Society, 606 Bibles, Children’s Bibles, and New Testaments as well as 2519 Scripture portions and teaching materials were distributed. More than six festivals and fun days were held, and over 20 different puppet shows were performed over the Christmas and Easter periods. Over 8,000 children attended. During the Christmas period, Bible Society programmes spread out from Jenin to Bethlehem.

Bible Society staff gave a Bible with a red leather cover to a 17 year old boy, Salem, with this response: “(Salem) was overwhelmed with joy to own a new and special Bible in his favourite colour. Ten days later he told us that he became addicted to reading the Bible, and he always comes with questions regarding what he reads.”

LOCAL WORK

You're helping to meet the great need at home

MISSION

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Remote & Indigenous

Scripture resources and ministry support

Left: Pitjantjatjara speaker Katie Curley, image by John Montesi Photography. Right: The Maung Dedication on Golburn Island, image by Paul Eckert

In 2016 $248,800 was invested into Remote and Indigenous Ministry Support (RIMS). Distribution of Scripture resources was undertaken through our Outback Scripture Grants Programme, providing free Scriptures and Bible engagement resources to our Mission Partners across Australia.

“We are so thankful to have partners like the Bible Society to assist us with our mission. God is working the Maclean and Yamba community and it is a blessing to watch the participants connect with God through the resources so generously provided.”
Kait Bastion, Coordinator of Holiday Bible Club – An Aboriginal Mission for kids, teens and young adults

In 2016, the Old Testament Book of Daniel was printed and distributed in Pitjantjatjara for the first time as part of the Pitjantjatjara Old Testament Project.

“I was really pleased to receive the book of Daniel in my own language... I am reading it all the time especially when I’m not on dialysis and I’m getting lots of enjoyment out of it. Someone asked me, ‘Why did they throw Daniel into the lion’s den?’ And I said, ‘It was because he was thinking about God and praying to him.’ So it reminds me to pray and talk to God and when I go on dialysis I pray first.”
Katie Curley, Pitjantjatjara Speaker and artist

The Gospel of Mark in Maung is the first translation of a book of the Bible into the Maung Language and was dedicated on Goulburn Island off the coast of the Northern Territory in June.

“It’s why I wanted to be a Bible translator, so we can keep our language alive. I want to do this for my people, and the future of my children as well.”
Nancy Ngalmindjalmag, Maung Translators

Other achievements of 2016 include the translation of the Kunwinjku New Testament, reprints of both the Ngaanyatjarra and Alyawarr Bibles and portions of the Kriol Bible were recorded in audio format.

Bible Society Australia partnered with local churches in Alice Springs to provide follow up discipleship booklets and children’s resources in five indigenous languages for the Will Graham Event in Central Australia. The event saw over 6,000 people attend over a 3 day period, with more than 800 people responding to Will’s invitation to accept Christ.

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Scripture Grants

Bible and resources for hospitals, prisons and more

Over 75,000 pieces of Scripture were distributed to chaplains of hospitals, Correctional Services, Juvenile Justice Centres, and Australian Defence Forces as well Scripture teachers and other Christian organisations.

“There are many wonderful moments when we, as chaplains, witness the value that the Bibles bring the men …in the form of learning, comfort, peace, challenge, strength, self-worth. Without the Bibles that we receive through the Bible Society Scripture Grant, our ministry would be much less hands-on and tangible.”
Correctional centre in Melbourne

“We could not meet the demand for Scriptures if it was not for your grant. The men and women come to us at their life’s deepest and darkest point and many see the Scripture as having a "light" that they need to see a way forward. We find many reading the Bible for comfort or forgiveness but they usually go on to find the strength of God in the pages.”
Prison in South Australia

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Youth & Children

Informing, encouraging and inspiring students

In 2016 we provided 20,000 Bibles for Australian Public School Ministry to be used in over 400 public schools around Australia

2016 saw good growth in the Masterclass Programme (one-day events for Christian students that aim to inform, encourage, challenge and inspire students) from four to seven locations. In addition public talks and leader’s and pastor’s events were held at some of the locations.

2,100 students and staff from over 120 schools and 20 smaller independent groups attended the seven Masterclass events. Some testimonies are as follows:

“So glad I got the opportunity. I would wake up at 4am any day to come back here.”
NSW

“Great talks that were relevant to young people. Confronting but very useful.”
NT

“Highly qualified speakers, engaging and informative. Motivating to stay true to following Christ in a world that wants us to follow a different path.”
WA

“The Bible is not a dodgy religious book. God/Jesus is loving and wonderful and worth treasuring.”
VIC

“A real opportunity to listen to quality people and ask real-time questions in an environment where you can trust the people to listen and care.”
TAS

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the opportunity you provided for my students to attend such an amazing conference yesterday. They were buzzing and I know that what was shared has impacted them deeply on many levels. You should have heard them sharing with their class mates today. I will look forward to hearing of what may be happening next year. We will certainly be a part.”
Chaplain in WA

In addition to the Masterclass events, eight public talks, three leader’s breakfasts and a leader’s lunch were held, with well-known Christian authors and speakers providing stimulating input. A total of 2,109 people attended these talks. Some responses to the public talk by Rev Dr John Dickson in Launceston include:

“Great to bring my atheist husband to. Thanks.”

“Excellent speaker. Good points, educated and respectful of the view of atheists and other Christians alike.”

“Informed, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Not to mention faith-confirming and enjoyable. Thank you!”

“Well run and well presented. If there was another one I would be confident to bring non-Christians along.”

The face-to-face audience at a total of 19 events was 4, 474 people.

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Koorong & Bible Society Bookshop

Supplying thousands of Bibles across the nation

During the 2016 calendar year, Koorong sold just over 300,000 Bibles with a total sales volume greater than 3,500,000 units. 2016 has been a year of greater collaboration between Koorong and the Bible Society teams, in the areas of strategy, social media, recruitment, and cross promotion. Koorong supported Bible Society fundraising campaigns, underwent renovations of the West Ryde Café, and created a new digital catalogue.

During 2016, 450,000 products were shipped from our Bible Society bookshop, including just over 200,000 Bibles and New Testaments. The new Bible Shop website was launched in April 2016. It is used both for bulk wholesale purchases, direct personal purchases and to distribute Bibles to schools and other organisations under our Bible Grants programme. The new bibleshop.org website has helped to increase the Bible Society Australia digital presence.

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Publishing

Producing Bibles, books and more

"The Bible Down Under" by historian Meredith Lake was published in 2016. It is a great introduction to how the Good Book has shaped Australian culture. Meredith Lake’s book is a down payment on a much larger history of the Bible in Australia which is expected to be published in 2017.

Other highlights of 2016 were special print runs of Bibles for the “Stable on the Strand” – a significant Christmas outreach initiative in Townsville (5,600 copies), Hillsong Conference (3,000 copies), a major CEV print run (40,000 copies), and Good News Bibles for African communities (9,000 Bibles and 10,000 Gospels). Also printed were the NLT General Outreach New Testament (3,000 copies), CEV Deadly News Gospels of Mark for Indigenous outreach (5,000 copies), 2017 Kids Calendars “God’s Superheroes” (35,000 copies), and 2017 “Majesty of Jesus” Calendars (15,000 copies). An evangelistic booklet for young adults titled “5 Secrets” was designed and produced for printing in 2017.

During 2016, publications for Bible Society’s Bicentenary were written, collated and edited for publication in early 2017. This included the Indigenous Christian Art book, “Our Mob, God’s Story” – a project over five years in the making. A commemorative NIV Bible and Gospel of Luke were designed and produced, with the Bible including a full colour section on how the Bible came to Australia, along with the history of Bible Society from its beginning in 1817 until today.

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Community Relations

Visiting, engaging, raising awareness and funds

During 2016, Bible Society team members visited and engaged with more than 470 churches, ministers and church representatives nationally, to share the Bible Society story. 1,837 individual donors and groups were encouraged by a personal visit.

Gatherings across the country were held to raise awareness and funds for Bible Society work, including events for ‘Get the Word Out South Africa. Hymnfests and Word and Song celebrations were enjoyed by many around the country, as were events with visits from Dina Katanacho from the Arab Israeli Bible Society. Bike for Bibles rides remain an important part of Bible Society community engagement. Highlights of the year included the very popular Perth Hymnfest, which is described as “one of the biggest musical events in Perth” which had over 900 people in attendance, the High Tea at the Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, and a pre-dinner function at the Unley Council Chambers in South Australia, which together raised enormous support for the South Sudan literacy appeal.

MEDIA

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Eternity

News from a Christian perspective

A new Eternity digital news service was designed and launched. Daily stories reached people through social media in both text and video formats, and extended our reach to an entirely new audience that may not have access to the Eternity newspaper.

Eternity digital news is designed to appeal to people who may identify as Christians or be exploring Christianity but don’t necessarily attend church. It is hoped that they will feel comfortable sharing the stories with their friends on social media.

Audiences are spending three times longer on the new Eternity site and consuming considerably more stories. Audience numbers have grown (15% increase in monthly visitors), as has social media engagement (183% growth in social media followers), which exceeded expectations. There has also been an 18% increase in the number of individual stories read and a new weekly Eternity email newsletter was successfully launched.

Centre for Public Christianity

CPX

The Centre for Public Christianity

In 2016, the Centre for Public Christianity (CPX) continued to provide a gracious Christian voice in the public media space. It had more than 30 articles published in various media outlets including the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age.

CPX Published two books: “10 Tips for Atheists … and other conversations in faith and culture”, and John Dickson’s “A Doubter’s Guide to the 10 Commandments.”

Members of the CPX team gave more than 100 talks internationally and around the country and held a number of special events.

In CPX’s weekly “Life & Faith” podcast and radio show, the most downloaded episode for the year featured maths and beauty. It included an interview with mathematician and Christian apologist John Lennox as well as a poem from former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, read by the Archbishop himself.

In 2016, filming took place for the forthcoming documentary “For the Love of God: How The Church Is Better And Worse Than You Ever Imagined” in five overseas countries: Israel, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (as well as in Australia). Other countries still to be visited include India, France, Spain, Germany, China, and Northern Ireland. 28 interviews with leading scholars were completed in 2016 including several in the UK, such as Alister McGrath and Sarah Coakley, raising the total to 43 interviews which have now been filmed (out of a projected 45).

FINANCES

2016 finance summary

FINANCES

Results for 2016
With the benefit of the full year of operations from Koorong Books and Crossroad Distributors (acquired in July 2015), the continued strong support of donors and the generosity of bequestors, Bible Society Australia (“BSA”) has benefited greatly from the support God has directed to us. The consolidated trading surplus for the year is $4,253,443 with $935,075 held as restricted funds for specific programmes in 2017. Our surplus for the full year after including the profit on sale of the Ingleburn warehouse is $7,133,003 compared to $922,471 last year. This has built a strong foundation as we move into our bicentenary year. Excluding the sale of property and share market gains, the total income resources are $58,460,011 (2015: $36,613,985), while expenses rose to $54,206,568 from $35,178,669 last year. The major growth in both revenue and expenses reflect the full-year impact of the Koorong acquisition. Donations and grants rose by 13% due to the successful South Sudan end-of-financial-year appeal and a grant for the development of Eternity news. The success of the South Sudan appeal will allow us to extend and broaden the project in the next few years. Unfortunately, costs of retaining and growing our donors continue to rise, particularly around direct mail where printing and mail costs have increased. The slight fall in our funding of international programmes was due in part to the cancellation of a major literacy programme planned for 2016. This programme will be replaced during 2017. Our support of the United Bible Societies in 2016 has assisted in the completion of 61 translations languages spoken by 428 million people. The task to get the Word into every language remains huge however with only 648 languages of the 6,880 languages currently spoken in the world currently having a full Bible. Locally, Bible Society distributed over 75,000 Bibles, New Testaments and pieces of scripture to chaplains of hospitals, correctional services, juvenile justice centres, scripture teachers and Defence Forces. Koorong sold just over 300,000 Bibles with a total sales volume greater than 3,500,000 units during the 2016 calendar year. In addition, from the Bible Society bookshop, we shipped over 450,000 total products, including just over 200,000 Bibles and New Testaments. We also ran seven Masterclass events across the country where more than 2,100 students and staff attended from 120 schools. It has indeed been a busy and blessed year. Barry Morris, FCA Chief Financial Officer

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