Across the Oceania region, the opportunity to lighten lives with God’s word is immense. The Bible already has a place in so many of these cultures, and people are crying out for God’s word: in their language, in their hands, in their hearts, and in their lives.
“Multitudes of people need the Bible. Multitudes desire a Bible. There are desperate hands reaching out everywhere for a Bible,”
says Canadian ‘Bibles for the Poor’ missionary Dave Dever, who, together with Bible Society, has distributed Bibles in the Solomon Islands for over 20 years. “The Solomon Islands is the most needy country for Bibles that I know of,” Dave says. “In all my years of giving Bibles out, only one lady in a shop has ever said ‘no’ to a Bible.”
At the pub, at the prisons, at the hospitals, the schools, in out of the way hard to reach places, at the top of mountains and everywhere else, people desperately and gratefully receive a Bible … and need a Bible.”
Bible Society Oceania is working to meet the need for Bibles in the region. For two years, due to the global pandemic, the supply of printed Bibles was brought to a standstill. Shelves were empty of Bibles, and with shipping affected so badly, no new Bibles were able to make it through.
However, from 2019, Bible Society South Pacific faithfully kept stock of Bibles ready for the ‘Bibles for the Poor’ ministry. When the ‘Bibles for the Poor’ team were able to visit this July, there were 960 Bibles in Pijin and 1,200 Good News Bibles subsidised and ready for the distribution work. They were so gratefully received, by so many.
“So many have faith and almost everyone is open to the Gospel, even the Devil Priests on Malaita island and the cult on Rendova island,” says Dave, describing the great desire for Bibles.
“I can see the desperate faces, and the gratitude on their faces, as they receive their Bibles.”
Dave and his team spent two weeks in the Solomon Islands. “We gave out Bibles, and Jesus films, and church history books almost every day,” he says. “A patient advocate team accompanied us around the hospital, handing Bibles out to patients. At a Bible camp, all the students got Bibles, as did graduates at a school. We also gave some Bibles out on the street in Honiara.” Dave was given a special edition of the Jesus film with sign language, “So I asked God to send a deaf person.” In God’s perfect timing, Dave recalls, “This deaf woman just showed up; those around us had never seen her before. She wrote out her name, and as I sometimes do — because the people love it — I said, ‘Here is another name for you as well’, and I wrote out the name ‘Beautiful’. She had this big smile; she really lit up. It was an amazing moment.”
This large distribution effort, and the Bibles kept in reserve for it, meant that Bible Society in the Solomon Islands were in need of more Bibles. Thanks to the capacity building work of the Oceania Alliance, Bible Society of the South Pacific in Suva received more Bibles into stock and were able to supply a bookshop in Honiara with 1,500 copies of the Good News Bible and 500 copies for the mission work of Bible Society Solomon Islands, to keep the operations going.
After Dave returned home from the Solomon Islands, he said, “I envisioned thousands of Solomon Islanders receiving a Bible. I do not know how this will happen, but I do know God wants it to happen.”