The whole world continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Bible Societies in other countries face existing and continuing social, economic and political challenges on top of the pandemic. Yet even during a global crisis, good news emerges, about how God has been using his people to serve his purposes, worldwide.
In the midst of the COVID crisis, the Beacon of Light literacy classes were continued – with safety precautions – in slums, urban areas, villages and among brick kiln workers due to popular demand. Despite the challenges, the people were desperate to use their time to learn. Almost 6,300 students enrolled in 330 classes last year, and more than 5,000 students were still able to graduate.
Despite being the first country impacted by the COVID crisis, China’s Bible Society Partnership still reports some positive news from 2020, with 73,080 copies of the Bibles distributed for free around the country.
During the pandemic lockdowns, World Hope Ministries communicated with prisoners through the postal system. Bibles in different languages and formats were sent to inmates and, in some cases, reached their families as well. Despite the pandemic in 2020, 2,644 Bibles were distributed, almost 1,500 inmates applied to do the Biblical Discipleship course and more than 1,100 enrolled to facilitate the course.
In spite of the total lockdown, Bible Society Iraq was granted permission to continue to distribute relief packages to refugees and other displaced people. In 2020, 2,400 families received relief packages and 2,000 children received a Christmas gift of pyjamas and a Bible.
The COVID crisis in PNG has only escalated into 2021, with just under 11,000 (officially diagnosed) infections and many more people sick in a population of 10 million and only 5,000 health workers.
However, the revision of the Tok Pisin Bible continues to progress, with 2020 spent finding translation consultants. This year has already seen the first drafts of three books, and the team continues to work to review the text of other books. There are also plans for the new members of the revision team to undergo training in translation and technology and for new translation consultants to be brought in this year.
Despite lengthy lockdowns and restrictions on classes, the Literacy program in Egypt had 900 graduates last year. They were each given a large print New Testament as a graduation gift.
The literacy course also held training sessions for facilitators: 25 sessions with new facilitators and 22 with current facilitators. Work was also completed on a new literacy resource for children who have no basic skills.
In response to the COVID crisis and the Beirut port explosion last August, Bible Society Lebanon has been supported by partner Bible Societies, boosting the team’s morale.
8,435 Bibles, New Testaments and Scriptures have been distributed for free (and a further 2,955 highly subsidised) to families whose homes were damaged in the explosion. A bookshop in Beirut and the Bible Society Centre have also been rebuilt.
Work continues, in the midst of the pandemic, as Bible Society volunteers share the word of God with children with cancer and their families. Thankfully, the hospital authorities have kept the doors open to the work. Even with reduced visits in 2020 (to protect both the children and volunteers), 96,000 Scriptures were distributed in waiting rooms, and a further 4,109 Bibles were distributed to children, their parents and medical staff in the paediatric oncology ward.
The Arab-Israeli Bible Society (AIBS) adapted to the pandemic by creating new programs to reach families and youth. Last year, a series of workshops was run at churches and schools for youth and families covering topics such as dealing with anxiety. Alongside these workshops, thousands of Bibles, magazines and Bible resources were distributed. This includes over 100 devotions that were posted on Facebook during the lockdown to continue engagement within the Arab-Israeli community.
Together with you, we thank God for his grace that sees his people through all things. And we thank God for you, because your partnership supports Bible Society Australia’s mission work around the world. This includes the important work of Opening The Bible here at Home. We know that God is more than able to supply 200,000 Bible resources this year for Australia, and meet the need overseas as well. What he desires of each of us is to pray, and to use what we have in our hand.