The Bible may be common in a modern city like Singapore, and often taken for granted. But for many in the region, the Word of God is embraced dearly as a message of faith, hope and love (1 Cor 13:13) that saves lives.
Discover how the Bible Societies of Philippines, Pakistan and Singapore bring hope to disaster victims, share love with people of different beliefs, and build faith through the hearing of God’s Word.
Bring Hope through the Word of Life
Bayanihan is ‘the spirit of communal effort to achieve a common objective’ in the Philippines. In this spirit, the Philippine Bible Society distributed Scriptures to victims of the horrendous disaster last year.
Heavy rains and flash floods are common in the Philippines. Yet, the nation was gripped in terror in the first two weeks of August 2012 when 66 people drowned.
In two short weeks, the number of people affected by torrential rains was 3.45 million, with 410, 729 people seeking refuge in evacuation centres due to risen rivers, clogged drainages, flooded streets and submerged homes.
19 staff members were also affected. Two had their homes totally washed out by the raging flood.
In spite of the difficult period for many at our sister Society, they placed their hope in God’s Word, and selflessly partnered with agencies doing relief distribution, to hand out Scripture resources such as Bibles, New Testaments and copies of the Calamity Portions.
One of the fruits of their selfless giving is a powerful testimony by 24-year-old Arturo Calinao, a fishpond caretaker from Rizal.
“The Bible changed my life ever since it was given to us during the onslaught of Habagat (southwest monsoon)… I almost died in the fishpond where I work. The only thing I remembered from the Bible was to ask for forgiveness. As I was struggling in the water, I asked God to forgive me and a hand grabbed hold of me…”
Adapted from the selection (tract) produced by the American Bible Society after 9/11, the Calamity Portion is a 34-page booklet entitled Hope in the Midst of Tragedy. It is an easy-to-read collection of verses and brief reflections. It deals with questions asked by calamity victims to encourage them to turn to God for refuge, strength, hope and help.
In total, 120,900 Calamity Portions were distributed, with the potential to bring hope to 362,700 disaster victims.
Lives are powerfully changed when people apply the Word of God in their circumstances. Still, many Filipinos have not received the Word of hope...
Share Love through the Word of Truth
God is using the Bible Society in different places, even in difficult regions like Pakistan, a predominantly non-Christian country, to sow the seed of love with His Word.
Anthony Lamuel, General Secretary of Pakistan Bible Society, shared during his visit to The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) in November 2012 that there has been a surge of interest in God’s Word of truth after the 9/11 disaster, with people from different faiths buying Bibles to learn more about Christianity.
Whilst it is challenging for Christians living in Pakistan, they are encouraged to see how God can spread His good news, even during turbulent times.
They hope to sow more seeds through the establishment of the first Bible museum on 9 February 2013, opened as part of the Society’s celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary.
“This museum has been our dream for many years… We have collected archaeological replicas and reproductions of Biblical manuscripts all over the world,” said Anthony Lamuel.
Rt Rev Dr Alexander John Malik, President of Pakistan Bible Society expressed that the “museum will be a very useful tool in helping many people… to develop good understanding of Biblical history and archaeology”.
A Muslim scholar who attended the opening said that the museum offered a fascinating insight into the Bible’s history and archaeology, and he would bring his students for a visit.
We believe that all who visit the Bible museum will be sanctified by the Word of truth (John 17:17) and be set free (John 8:32).
But more can be done to bring God’s Word of love to Pakistanis…
Build Faith by Hearing the Word
Engaging people with the Word is a key component at BSS. Our challenge is to make it relevant in our ever-changing society. Singapore may have 96.1% literacy rate (as of 2011), but many are preferred oral learners.
BSS encourages the reading of Scriptures through the Audio Bible. We visited All Saints Home in April 2013 to learn how the Audio Bible has been building faith.
The Chaplain, All Saints Home of Tampines, Pastor Larry Leong heard of the benefits of the Audio Bible, and met Richard Woo, our Head of Social Concerns, to obtain Audio Bibles for baptised Christians in the home.
“We currently have two sets of the Audio Bible (in English and Mandarin), donated by BSS. At the home, only 35-40% of the residents are Christians. It is my hope that everyone will receive salvation,” said Pastor Larry. “We hope to have one set in each ward so the entire ward will hear the Word of God together and be strengthened in faith.”
77-year-old Annie Lau has difficulty moving due to pain in her back. But her faith in God grows when she uses the Audio Bible.
“I am filled with joy when I hear the Word of God. I often pray for peace and for God to take away my pain after listening to the Bible.”
Koh Siew Eng, 60, has yet to receive Christ but she delights in hearing the Word of God.
“I find stories in the Bible very interesting, and I enjoy having the Word read out to me, loud and clear.”
The Audio Bible helps many grow in their faith and BSS strives to bring the Audio Bible to even more people.
Yet, we are limited in our resources to meet the many needs in our community…
Weaving Individual Threads
“It is only when we are able to stand back from the individual strands that connect Bible Societies that we can discern the whole picture of the remarkable work sustained through God’s grace and that reaches out to every corner of the world.” – Michael Perreau, General Secretary of United Bible Societies (UBS)
Bringing the Word of God to the nations and meeting the needs of our community is a tapestry of efforts.
As one of the 147 Bible Societies in more than 200 countries and territories, BSS connects Bible Societies in Asia and beyond. We may not experience the trying situations our sister Societies face, but we can support them through prayer, donation and voluntary services.
One such voluntary service is the Bible Mission Trips. We uphold countries in prayer, donate Bibles in their native languages and invite participants to join us in blessing the communities by giving the Word.