Bible Society Australia is part of the United Bible Societies (UBS), who operate across 240 countries and territories worldwide. The latest UBS figures show that worldwide Bible distribution topped 32.6 million in 2021, showing the extraordinary commitment of Bible Societies to provide the hope of God’s word in the midst of a global pandemic.
Despite staffing challenges, supply chain disruption and ongoing lockdowns, Bible Societies persevered to meet the huge demand for Scripture. Five out of seven regions provided more full Bibles in 2021 compared to 2020.
When the pandemic hit, restrictions meant that Bible ministry in around 90 nations was at risk. But supporters around the world responded generously, enabling Bible Societies to keep their doors open and continue providing Scripture to people in need. Many found new and creative ways to carry out their ministry. As a result, Bible Societies operating in some of the world’s poorest countries were able to double or even triple their Scripture distribution in 2021.
The distribution figures also revealed that 5.1 million New Testaments were distributed globally in 2021.
In total, 169.8 million Scripture items were provided during 2021. Michael Perreau, UBS Director General, said, “Just as our hope in Christ is an anchor for the soul, so Bible Societies were steadfast through the storm of the global pandemic. Across the world, our people persevered throughout 2021, doing everything possible to provide God’s word and meet the huge demand for Scripture.”
He added, “Every single Bible in someone’s hands has the potential to change a life. My prayer is that through his word, God will touch hearts, bring hope and strengthen faith.”
Although Bible Societies were able to provide around two million more full Bibles in 2021 than in 2020, rising costs, shipping delays and stock shortages meant that distribution was still below pre-pandemic levels. And Bible Societies are still affected by ongoing supply chain challenges in 2022.
Within the global fellowship of UBS, our region of Oceania stands out, with a remarkable story of growing Bible provision. Despite our region enduring some of the most severe lockdowns in the world, Bible distribution in Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea increased by more than a third during the pandemic, coinciding with increasing collaboration in the region.
Back in 2019, just over a half a million full Bibles were distributed in Oceania. That went up to 635,000 in 2020 – and rose a further 13% in 2021, with every nation providing more Bibles. The islands of Micronesia saw the biggest Bible distribution growth, with three times as many Bibles provided in 2021 compared to 2020.