Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Little Perspective: Bibles For Captive Nations

My last post featured a Bible that cost an arm and a leg (or a significant portion of graduation money), and I've been planning to balance the scale for a while with a look into the availability of Bibles around the world. Obviously I believe that its OK for the money God has given us to be a personal blessing and aid in our personal Christian walk through Bibles, study materials etc. However, I believe that God has an even greater purpose for our money and that as students of God's word we should seek to obey the great commission and God's radical demands regarding stewardship.

1 Timothy 6:17-19
17As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

North America and the UK is saturated with the word of God. Bibles are everywhere; Bible teaching is everywhere. We receive more Bible teaching in a week than many Christians in the 10/40 window receive in a single year. Most of us probably own multiple copies of the Bible, but those living in areas of persecution where Christians are living on the front lines of the battle to fulfill the great commission and give the gospel to every tribe, nation and tongue before the coming of Christ often are blessed to have a single copy of the word of God. In many nations a single copy of the Bible will be circulated in the underground church and believers will copy a chapter and pass it on. Sometimes they will break the Bible's binding and circulate individual books so that believers can make homemade copies. Many missionairies, pastors and Christian workers don't have access to the Bible and have to rely on the Holy Spirit to disciple new believers. This is a heartbreaking scenario, and I believe that God has blessed the wealthy nations of the world and called them to provide for the needs of those who are less fortunate. Many of those who are doing the most daring work for the Gospel and will receive the greatest reward in Heaven have the least in this world. Our job, as the rich of this world, is to provide for those in need and invest in eternity (Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 12:20-21, Luke 18:22). We must put our treasure where our heart is and help fulfill the sufferings of Christ with our financial frugality (Matthew 6:21). We must bless the world and serve those Christians who are laying down their lives for the Gospel in the hardest areas of the world.

With that in mind I want to spotlight some ministries that provide Bibles to the 10/40 window and the lost world.

Gospel For Asia Bible Society

Gospel for Asia is one of the most radical missions I've ever heard of, and their teaching and example has had a massive impact on my own walk as a believer. They provide Bibles to the 10/40 window as part of a native missionary campaign to support, educate, commission, and mobilize native born again believers to radically evangelize their own countries. 100% of gifts go to the mission field.

Voice of the Martyrs: Bibles for Captive Nations

Voice of the Martyrs is an organization founded to support missions to hostile and restricted nations of the world, taking the gospel to countries that prohibit and persecute Christianity. They smuggle Bibles into captive nations using a number of methods and taking great risk to bring the word of God to believers who daily risk their lives for their witness. The Voice of the Martyrs exists to inform the world of the needs of the persecuted church and is a powerful witness of commitment to Christ.

VOM recently came out with a Bible Smuggler T-Shirt that costs $15. $3 of that money goes to provide Bibles for captive nations. The shirt can be a reminder and witness for the persecuted church.

Voice of the Martyrs also has a more hands-on ministry which involves missionaries who personally carry and distribute New Testaments to closed and restricted nations such as North Korea. It is highly dangerous to bring the word of God into these nations, but many risk their lives to provide Bibles for the persecuted church. The Bibles Unbound ministry mails materials to you, where you take part in the process and you mail the Bibles to missionaries in the field who carry them into restricted nations. 

I've featured Faith Comes by Hearing before. They provide audio versions of the Bible to a large number of people groups and nations through portable Bible "proclaimers," which feature the Bible in that group's spoken language. They are able to provide the word of God to the world's largely illiterate population. Check out my previous post.

Currently, Faith Comes By Hearing offers 518 Audio Scripture recordings in 460 languages reaching more than 4.5 billion people in more than 154 countries.

I've been greatly blessed by my involvement in these ministries and consider the chance to share in their ministry one of the most important works I've ever done. I have no doubt that their work will last for eternity and I'm honored to be able to have some small part in their eternal reward.

I'm placing this post in the "Introductions and Features" section on the top left for easy access.

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