BIBLE NEWS | John Sandeman
Friday 20 May 2016
You’d expect records to be broken at the Rio Olympic games this year, but the same is true of a possibly more important gathering. Records have been broken at the United Bible Societies (UBS) World Assembly, which wound up this week in Philadelphia.
The once-every-six-year gathering heard that significant Bible world records had been smashed: more Bibles to more places, faster translations, and web Bibles for societies with a high saturation of mobile phones.
- Since 2010, Bible Societies have distributed 2.5 billion scriptures, including more than 190 million full Bibles. In 2011, our annual distribution of full Bibles surpassed 30 million for the first time – a figure we have sustained every year since then. In 2015 we distributed more full Bibles than ever: 34 million
- Bibles are reaching key places: 20 per cent more scriptures were distributed in the Americas in 2014 than in 2010, and in Africa, 31 per cent more full Bibles than in 2010
- The Digital Bible page on Facebook has 9.5 million followers
- 116 new full Bible translations (including 50 first Bibles) have been completed by Bible Societies since 2010, as well as 63 New Testaments (including 33 first New Testaments)
- 25 languages, which previously had no scripture, now have at least some of the Bible, thanks to our efforts in the last six years
- Faster Bibles: Could a New Testament be translated in just three and a half years? And could the Old Testament be translated in seven years? UBS launched two ambitious pilot projects to find out. The answer was yes. Both the Ila and Nzenga New Testament translations in Zambia were completed within the timescales, showing that under ideal circumstances UBS can produce rapid, accurate and quality translations
- A new Bible App rolled out in Portuguese has users online for six minutes at a time, which shows a high level of engagement
- Over 300,000 people have gained literacy skills from Bible Society projects over the last 3 years. They learn to read usually using Bible material
- A Good Samaritan program to reduce stigma for people living with HIV/AIDS has benefited 800,000 people
- A much simpler governance system has cut the cost of meetings by two thirds
The World assembly delegates are flying home at present to 150 Bible Societies around the world. They have made a commitment to continue with Bible translation at the centre of their work.
United Bible Societies Director General Michael Perreau spoke of his joy that such a diverse group of people from different cultures, languages and backgrounds were able to come together and agree on a way forward to reach more people with God’s Word.
“As we reach out to the urban, the unreached and the under-represented, we must not just talk about the Bible, but from it. We must not just distribute the Bible, but ensure that our very lives reflect it. Our hope rests in the promise that God will be faithful.”