Could you imagine what life would be like without your Bible? How would your faith be different? What impact would the lack of a Bible have on your life? What would you miss most about God’s Word?
In the West we have near-immediate access to the Bible. Most of us probably own multiple copies. If not, many of our churches stock Bibles to share with members and visitors on Sundays. And of course we have convenient access to free Bible websites and apps on our smartphones.
Direct access to the Bible for the nearly 70% of the world’s evangelical Christians living in the Global South, however, is unusual.1 Consider Pastor German Banda’s small congregation in Lusaka, Zambia. Many of his members live in deep poverty, struggling to afford the maize meal that is their main food staple. And because Bibles in their community are more expensive than bags of meal, Pastor Banda estimates that only 25% of the people in his church own a Bible, with the rest forced to share or borrow.
Even in the face of physical poverty that plagues the 86% of Zambia's population living below the poverty line, spiritual hunger has multiplied. Evangelical Christianity in Zambia expanded from 28% to 86% over the past 50 years.2 As a result, these Christians recognize the Word of God as “the most valuable thing this world affords.”3
While we celebrate the growth of both the Zambian and global church, efforts to resource Christians and church leaders have not kept pace, and demand for the most fundamental resource—Bibles—is outpacing supply to an alarming extent. An estimated 11 million church ministry leaders in the Global South lack access to proper biblical training and resources.4 Further, many communities do not have the infrastructure available, or market to sustain, the long-term distribution of Bibles at locally affordable prices.
As a result, biblical illiteracy, spiritual malnourishment, and the transmission of false teaching run rampant. Without direct access to the Bible, some pastors are forced to preach from an incomplete or incorrect understanding of Scripture. Without Bibles of their own, church members are unable to learn God’s Word for themselves or hold their leaders’ words up to the light of truth (Acts 17:11).
For churches and communities in the Global South to flourish spiritually, Christians need direct access to God’s Word.
We invite you to partner with us in our ongoing effort to distribute one million ESV Bibles around the world. These Bibles are being freely provided to Christians in places of great need and strategically subsidized in other locations where the need is just as great but the current priority is building sustainable, long-term Bible distribution models. By partnering with churches, ministry networks, and other organizations in the Global South, our goal is to provide the Word of God to one million Christians who would otherwise not have access to their own Bibles.
Every $50 you give will help to support the distribution of God’s Word into the hands of Christians in need and will contribute to building sustainable Bible distribution channels for long-term impact. Would you prayerfully consider a gift to help distribute God’s Word to those with little or no access? Our overall goal for this initiative is to distribute one million Bibles.
We rejoice that God has been glorified through the gifts of so many faithful partners thus far. This has helped us to surpass the $1 million mark, funding the initial printing, delivery, and distribution of more than 200,000 Bibles. In June 2023 we shipped 125,000 Bibles to distribution hubs throughout the Global South, which will arrive in the coming weeks. Please join us in praying for the safe delivery and distribution of these Bibles, and for the hearts of those who will receive them.
God’s Word is life-giving and powerful. Through the Bible, Christians throughout the Global South will be able to grow in their understanding of God and salvation, equipping them to share the Good News with others. Through the Bible, pastors and church leaders are strengthened to preach the gospel and shepherd Christ’s flock, who now have Bibles of their own. Would you partner with us to give Christians in need the most valuable thing this world affords?
- Johnson, Todd M., and Gina A. Zurlo. 2020. World Christian Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), 4.
- Ibid, 885.
- The Translation Oversight Committee, preface to the English Standard Version Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).
- Madson, Paul. Global Training Network, accessed August 29, 2022. https://gtn.org.