People at a rural church in Hennan province, China, hold up their new Bibles after a visit by Bible Society representatives. Photo credit: Dag Smemo

1.8 billion Scriptures distributed by Bible Societies in five years

Thanks to the incredible kindness and generosity of Bible Society supporters, 1.8 billion Scriptures, including more than 184 million full Bibles, have been distributed worldwide over the last five years.

When every piece of Scripture distributed by the Bible Society network since 2015 is added up, it totals more than 1.8 billion items – enough for almost a quarter of the world’s population. 

The annual distribution of full Bibles increased from more than 34 million in 2015 to just short of 40 million in 2019, which was a record for Bible provision, according to Scripture distribution figures from United Bible Societies as announced on 29 July 2020.

A decade ago, annual Bible distribution was below 30 million. The huge and growing quantities of Bibles provided reflect the ongoing demand for Scripture – and the commitment of Bible Societies to put God’s word into the hands of everyone who wants it.

Bible mission is being influenced more and more by the internet. Almost a quarter of Bibles distributed in 2019 were digital downloads, compared to 17 per cent in 2018. Asia, Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East all saw an increase in the number of full Bibles distributed – primarily because more people are downloading Scripture. 

In 2019, the number of New Testaments provided reached 15 million for only the second time in the last decade. And in total, more than 315 million Scripture items were distributed around the world in 2019.

Nearly 3.7 million Scriptures specially designed for children were distributed in 2019, with the largest number (1.27 million) provided in Africa, where children under 15 account for around 40 per cent of the population.

Bible Societies also stepped up their efforts to translate and distribute Scripture in sign languages. In 2019, portions of Scripture were being translated into 29 sign languages used by 5.3 million Deaf people.

If there’s no Bible in your language, you can’t access God’s word. If there is a Bible in your language but you’re one of the world’s 773 million adults who can’t read, your access is still limited. And if you’re learning to read but there’s no simplified Scripture text, you’re facing an uphill struggle.

That’s why Bible Societies ensure that translation, literacy and distribution go hand in hand – because only then can God’s word transform people’s lives. In 2019, Bible Societies ran literacy classes in more than 20 countries for up to 165,000 people and distributed more than 4.5 million Scripture booklets for new readers.

Covid-19 threat to Bible mission

We’d like to thank you for your kindness and generosity that is making such a massive, positive difference to many lives the world over by enabling them access to God’s word. Your support now is more crucial than ever, as local Bible Society teams in as many as 88 nations feel the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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