Young worshippers pray in Bethlehem

Proclaiming the gospel in the Bible Lands during the pandemic

Thanks to the generosity of Bible Society supporters, many families in the Holy Lands have been provided with both physical and spiritual support during the coronavirus pandemic, writes Nashat Filmon, Bible Society leader in Jerusalem.

Nashat Filmon

Many people in this region have lost their jobs or can’t go out to earn their ‘daily bread’ and families whose financial situation is usually stable are suffering. They’re being described as the ‘new poor’.

Issa, part of our Bible Society team in Jerusalem working with the Palestinian community, said, ‘I found out that there are families who sleep early because they (now) can't afford to pay the electricity bills – so they save electricity and stay in the dark. There are families who were eating one meal a day only, limited to legumes, as they couldn’t afford vegetables, meat or fruit. Some families where people are sick were not able to buy medicine, so they started taking half a pill instead of one pill!’

Our team was invited by local authorities to join emergency relief efforts in various cities. We provided hygiene kits, face masks, food packages and medicine. But people need more than these bare necessities, so we took this opportunity to reach out to the unreached and to be a light in the midst of darkness.

We gave each family, Christian and non-Christian, a flyer with a short message of hope and encouragement. It said things may come, such as the virus, and change the world very quickly, but God is unchangeable. We can always have hope in God and we can always come to God, and he should be at the top of our list of priorities.

More than 500 families have also received an audio device packed with Scriptures and dramatised Bible stories. The solar-powered Proclaimer unit with its built-in speaker is hugely popular, especially with those without a computer or with little electricity. Demand for these devices has been phenomenal and thanks to the kindness of Bible Society supporters, we plan to distribute thousands more in the future.

This region has a great oral tradition, where people love listening to stories together. Especially during lockdown, whole families gathered around listening to the devices, so just one Proclaimer means many hear God’s word. It’s also so encouraging that people who never asked for Scriptures are now asking for them.

Children gather around a Scripture book at a Sunday
School in Ramallah

‘We need the Bible now more than ever,’ is the very true and powerful statement we’ve heard so many times.

Adham, also a member of our team, shared another encouraging sign of how God is at work during this pandemic. ‘A main part of our mission in this project was to hopefully one day see the churches united and working hand in hand ... despite the difficult situation with coronavirus, I can finally testify that I have witnessed an unprecedented movement of unity among the different churches in the Bethlehem area!’

The priority now is to continue to help those affected most by the pandemic. They need psychological help and spiritual guidance – how to deal with fear, how to trust in God, and how to find hope in his promises. Please pray for Bible mission as it continues to make good progress among people in the Bible Lands, and especially those non-Christians who are hearing the word of God for the first time.

A version of this story first appeared in our Bible a Month prayer letter. You can change someone’s life for good every month by joining Bible a Month. Regular giving, of even just £10 a month, allows long-term plans to be made to ensure Bible mission has maximum impact. Join us receive a bi-monthly prayer letter through the post full of inspiring stories of how your giving is transforming lives through the word of God.

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