This article was originally posted in our March 2019 Word@Work.
Offering Hope to the World Through Overseas Mission Opportunities
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
At the core of the Bible Society of Singapore’s (BSS) identity is its dedication towards overseas missions. While Singapore’s is a good opportunity to celebrate our nation as a singular entity, it is just as important to acknowledge our role in relation to the rest of the world, namely, that of extending support towards underprivileged communities beyond our shores. As a missions agency that works to make the Word of God known to all peoples, this truth remains our main guiding principle as we introduce new platforms and initiatives that impact society both locally and regionally.
Aiding the displaced people
The past few years have indeed been turbulent, and while Singapore is by and large shielded by the ill effects of unrest, many countries—some close to home—are not. The widely publicised Rohingya Crisis in the Burmese state of Rakhine is one such incident that BSS has recently lent aid to by donating $200,000 to the Bible Society of Myanmar as part of our holistic missions ministry. The money is used to support the Rohingya people that have been displaced by the conflict, as well as other Burmese communities that have also been affected by the ensuing violence. As most Rohingya have already fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, BSS is also working closely with the Bible Society of Bangladesh to ensure that essential supplies, such as tents, warm clothing, and mosquito nets are delivered to some 1,200 families who are currently staying in refugee camps like Cox’s Bazar. Remedies for tragedies like this are few and far between, but in revealing God’s immense love and care for those affected through these initiatives, we are able to not only meet their immediate needs, but also offer hope and alleviate their pain in some way.
Translating God’s Word to their language
Scripture translations have also been a vital part of our Bible mission work. With almost 7,000 spoken languages around the world, only about 542 languages having the complete bible, there is still much work to be done. Not only do translators have to pick up the languages, they must also accurately translate the Scriptures whilst factoring in the various nuances that each language possesses. Each year, BSS works with different Bible societies to support these translation projects. In 2018, we worked with Vietnam (Tay Old Testament and Black Hmong New Testament) and Bangladesh (Chakma Old Testament and Marma New Testament), and it was apparent why these projects were so important to the respective communities. Chong, the pastor of a predominantly Black Hmong church in northwest Vietnam, spoke of the need for a Black Hmong Bible in order for his congregation to better understand the Word. As the draft for the Black Hmong New Testament was reviewed, Chong recounted how a young man who stopped attending church because he could not understand the Bible, was so excited at the prospect of finally being able to read it in Black Hmong that he eventually returned to church.
“Reading the Word in my language made me turn back to God,” Chong recalled the young man say. He is just one of 35,000 Black Hmong believers who will stand to benefit from the project.
This year, we turn our focus to Myanmar as we launch the Lautu Old Testament translation project, slated to be completed by 2021. By God’s provision, we have received a $300,000 donation split amongst all three projects, so we are extremely excited to be able to reach out to these communities more quickly and effectively. Additionally, we are involving everyday Singaporeans in various capacities through Bible Mission Trips organised by International Bible Experiences (IBEx), where participants will be able to witness the fruits of these translation projects as they distribute Bibles and Scripture materials to eager recipients. If you have always wondered how impactful Bible translation and distribution can be, do check out our catalogue of upcoming Bible Mission trips this year at www.ibex.sg.
Transforming lives through Literacy programmes
The reality is that placing a Bible in one’s hand is only half the battle won, and that Bible is only useful if one is able to read it. That is where literacy programmes come into the equation. Although 95% of the world is literate, this is by no means an accurate reflection of the literacy rates in rural communities in developing countries, where access to education is sorely limited. Through these literacy programmes, we are not only enabling these communities to read and understand the Bible, but with their newfound literacy, more job and education opportunities await, allowing them to break out of the poverty cycle. Currently, we are working alongside the Bible societies in Cambodia and Vietnam in conducting literacy programmes there. On top of that, we will also introduce our own Word Intake for Spiritual Edification (WISE), a Bible engagement programme, designed to encourage daily reading and listening to the Word of God. This is an effective tool to help illiterate people better understand the Bible even on top of literacy classes.
Offering our Best
There are so many needs to be met, both locally and around the world, that it is sometimes a little overwhelming to think about them all. However, this is the challenge of the Great Commission. It is a grand undertaking that requires the collective effort of every Christian, united in offering our best; united in fulfilling our ultimate goal on this side of eternity—to make disciples out of all nations, and to bring God’s Word to the ends of the earth. 2019 promises to be an exciting year on all fronts, and more than ever, we will need all your help and prayers as we work together for God’s glory.