A special message from Greg Clarke
As of the end of June, I will have stepped down as CEO of Bible Society Australia after nine years at the helm. It has been an immense and unique privilege to lead the organisation.
I feel blessed to have seen Bible mission accelerate around the world. Since I began, the number of complete Bibles translated into new languages has risen from 470 to 690, in just eight years. The word of God is reaching every tribe and nation, faster than ever before. It is a real possibility that all language groups will have Scripture in my lifetime.
I want to thank the numerous former and current Board members, staff, prayer supporters, donors, volunteers and partners who make this work possible, and urge you to continue supporting this essential Christian ministry.
“The word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). May it be living and active in each of us, until our dying breath and beyond. My heart is full of thankfulness to God for each and every one of you.
The book that gives new life to China's poor
By Rev Melissa Lipsett, Chief Operating Officer, Bible Society
Something exciting was happening, that was clear. As we bumped our way up the tiny laneway in a village in China’s Shandong province, every available space on either side was filled with tiny farm vehicles and motorcycles. In front of us we could see a rough wooden cross rising above a tiled roof.
It signalled that we had arrived at a small rural church, where hundreds of believers had gathered to receive a new Bible or to replace one so old it had pages missing. They were all waiting expectantly, and the excitement was palpable as we made our way in through the little courtyard to join the 300 in the tiny church.
We were welcomed, songs were sung, prayers were said (including The Lord’s Prayer in perfect unison), but it was the tears that moved me the most. Tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears because the gift of a Bible was the most precious gift we could possibly give. One woman held her Bible to her heart and declared exactly that: “The Bible is the most precious book to me. Through it I see God.”
I saw God that day too. I saw him in the faces of people for whom life is very hard and who look to him for their strength. I saw him in the tears of elderly women who held my hands tightly as I passed them the precious gift of his word, and who told me that life was better now that they had learnt to read using the Bible.
I felt him in the gnarled hands of the menfolk who reached out eagerly for the Book of Life, too. I saw him also in the eyes of the young woman who refused to take a Bible, even though hers was very torn and worn, knowing that someone needed it more than she did, someone who didn’t have one yet.
And she’s right, because all across China there are millions of people who haven’t got access to a Bible yet. With the rapid growth of the church in China, it’s not unusual to see people spilling out of the worship hall into the church courtyard. Rural villagers walk for hours to attend services. And all these new believers need Bibles.
Thanks to Bible Society Australia donors, and donors worldwide, funds were raised to produce 1.26 million (out of the target of two million) affordable Bibles for distribution in China last year. But there is still a huge shortage. This year, 3.34 million Bibles have been approved for printing and distribution by the Church in China. The only thing that’s missing is the funding for Bible paper.
New readers’ pride
The tiny room was crowded with smiling women. Clearly, they were very pleased with themselves. And no wonder. Each was a new reader, having learnt their new skill from the Scripture literacy class facilitated by the rural church. At first, they were shy about demonstrating their literacy prowess but, with encouragement, they opened their booklets and read to us. As they reached the end of a passage, they grinned broadly. One woman said, “I learnt how to read and write, and it has made my life better.”
Nationally, on average, there is one ordained Protestant pastor to 6700 Christians. There is a great need to train pastors at Bible seminaries and provide lay preachers with Bible resources. Kong Jinxiang a volunteer lay preacher in Shandong province, was immensely grateful to receive a set of Bible resources thanks to the generosity of donors like you. “Receiving these Bible reference materials is like receiving precious jewels,” he said.
Sadly, there are still millions of people across China who haven’t got a Bible yet, which is why we are appealing for funding to buy paper to help the church in China print and distribute 3.4 million new Bibles this year. Your tax-deductible gift can also help Chinese Christians learn to read their new Bible.
Established in Sydney in 1817, Bible Society Australia’s activities take place as part of the United Bible Societies who operate across 200 countries and territories.
We are one of the most extensive mission groups in the world and do our work in partnership with churches, providing resources and Bible-focused campaigns and community programmes.