The Bible is still on the banned book list in 52 countries around the world.
That presents a major challenge for Christian ministries that help the persecuted church like Open Doors.
Jordan Scott who’s a communications specialist working with Open Doors told Vision Radio that just possessing a Bible comes with a price.
“I take an English version of the Bible for granted. But William Tyndale was actually put to death, burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. Someone paid that price so that I could have a copy of the Bible in English. If we don’t pay a price now for others, they won’t have access. Just possessing the Bible in countries like Somalia or North Korea could be a death sentence.”
“I was chatting with some believers in Egypt where restrictions and persecution isn’t quite as high as it is in other countries. Yet they were telling me they see martyrdom as one of the potential calls on their life. That when they consider some are called to be teachers, some are called to be evangelists, and there are also some who are called to give their life and sow their life and their blood into the growth of the church in Egypt.”
Jordan explained that problems and hurdles like illiteracy and access to electricity can make Bible distribution challenging:
“Something that Open Doors does with its local partners around the world is distribute solar powered digital Bibles. These are either auditory Bibles so people can hear the Bible spoken in their own language or a digital Bible that they can read, which also has other Christian material on it, maybe even songs too. It’s solar powered, so it surmounts the problems of illiteracy by being an audible function and means that communities without electricity can still access the device.”
Smuggling Bibles is still just as important for the ministry as it was in the days of its founder Brother Andrew.
Jordan told Vision Radio: “I was just reading a story of one of our local partners in Myanmar who is filling up his backpack full of these audio Bibles and jumping on his motorbike and travelling for three days to remote communities to distribute Bibles. Bible smuggling is still what we call Bible couriering. We go into remote or restricted areas and bring Bibles with us on our bodies. That’s one way that we distribute Bibles and will for some time.”
Donors pay $20 for each Bible Open Doors delivers.
“We want to bridge the gap either through translating the Bible or through sharing these audio Bibles, through going to remote communities, going into restricted countries across borders, packing our jumpers and coats and suitcases full of Bibles, whatever it looks like.”
Jordan also explained that it is so important to get Bibles into those 52 countries where they are illegal for two profound reasons:
“The first is that it acquaints them with the God that they have encountered, either through friendship and relationship with other people or through dreams and visions in the miraculous ways that people can encounter God. They learn what that God is like. They learn that He is the kind of God that would send His Son because He loves them and would give Himself up for them. They learn that He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. So actually, the Bible is the way that they become acquainted with the God that they have met.”
“The second thing is that the Bible contextualises their persecution. When they open the Bible, they read stories of persecuted believers and Jesus, who himself was persecuted, and all of the apostles after him. The whole New Testament is packed full with persecution. Even the Old Testament is in the persecution of the Jewish people. These stories remind them that the real victory is in the life to come and that they can actually glory in their suffering now. ”
“The book of Hebrews says the word of God is alive and active. And that just couldn’t be more true. I think something that the persecuted church and believers have shown me is that when you know Him, when you receive a Bible, the Bible comes to life. It’s more than just literature. It’s more than just words on a page. It’s actually the Word of God, which is a man, Jesus, and that is someone that you can know and encounter. And you know, God Himself grabs you by the hand and walks you through the pages and makes certain things alive to you. And I think everyone who has become acquainted with the Bible in some way has seen that.”
Click below to listen to the full interview: