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A World without Amazon

This update is related to the One Million Bibles: A Crossway Global Initiative campaign.

Life without Access to Amazon

Amazon. When we hear that word in the United States, the first thing that comes to mind is probably an image of the biggest rainforest in the world, located in northwestern Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries…right? Probably not. More accurately, Amazon likely brings to mind the promise of “FREE Same-Day Delivery.”

Thanks to Amazon, Doordash, and other U.S.-based companies, many of us in the United States live with a “FREE Same-Day Delivery” mentality. And few of us stop to think about the fact that, for some, this world we live in sounds like a fantasy.

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of this pastor in rural India:

I was talking to a guy who said he really wanted a study Bible. When I told him that I had a study Bible to give him, he traveled almost more than 12 hours by train from his village to pick it up from me in the city. When I gave it to him, he was in tears because he had been praying that he would be able to get a study Bible for more than two years. It’s so encouraging to see the shepherds long to read God’s Word and preach it faithfully to their congregations.

Since 80% of India lives in rural and remote areas, it’s very difficult to find places that would even sell Bibles. There is no Amazon service ready to deliver a Bible at the drop of a hat. These Christians aren’t debating between the “buy with one click” versus “checkout” options. Amazon just doesn’t extend into the most rural villages of India.

India’s situation isn’t isolated: the scene in Pastor Samuel Mosoontu’s community in Kajiado, Kenya, looks similar. About 50 miles outside of Nairobi, our first response may be to label that as a relatively simple, quick trip. Think again:

Part of the challenge in accessing Bibles is the time it takes for someone to go from their rural village to Nairobi and back again. It would take someone a whole day to go there and back just to get a Bible.

What might have seemed to you as a quick trip wouldn’t be quite so easy if your transportation options were to either take your moped that has a max speed of 30 mph, or to take a series of buses connecting Kajiado to Nairobi.

When making the effort to buy a Bible means sacrificing a day of making money at work and figuring out the logistics of transportation, no wonder many of these believers don’t have a Bible.

But a question may be lingering in the back of your mind: couldn’t they find Bibles for sale in Kajiado? They might, but Pastor Samuel explains that “if a member of my church would like to get a Bible, I usually will have to go to Nairobi to pick one out for them. They’re really expensive in the small shops here.” Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer free shipping to Kajiado.

Later, he explains that he makes the effort to visit Nairobi both to purchase more affordable Bibles and to ensure that he gets theologically correct Bibles into the hands of his members:

I know where the good shops in Nairobi are to get Bibles, and specifically what kind of Bible to get, since there are so many different kinds today. For example, I recently had someone come to me with a Catholic Bible and she was trying to understand where I was preaching from. She had borrowed it from her uncle, because even though she had been looking for a Bible that looks similar to ours, she wasn’t able to find one.

These brothers and sisters in Christ throughout rural India and Kenya give us just a small glimpse into life without Amazon, and without access to Bibles.

God has blessed us with the gift of his Word to guide our steps, but without this light they are left on their own to make sense of God and of the world (Ps. 119:105). Join us in providing this lamp to believers in rural India and Kenya.

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