In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln’s close friend, Joshua Speed, paid him a private visit at the outskirts of Washington. When Speed, a sceptic, found the American President reading a Bible, he was incredulous. Lincoln responded, “Take all of this Book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man.”
As Lincoln’s statement echoes, the Bible is incomparably valuable, and the benefits mankind can derive from being intimately acquainted with it are unparalleled. It does not simply make one a “happier” person, but also “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15). Therefore, the desire and goal remains for all Christians, especially for us here at The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS): that through owning, engaging with and experiencing God’s Word, everyone may truly know the Word made flesh—Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Helping people own the Bible
Out of more than 7,000 living languages in the world today, only 542 have the complete Bible. Bible translation and distribution therefore remains a key objective of the global Bible Mission, and one that BSS is committed to. We are blessed to have not only churches, but also corporate organisations such as Far East Organization to come alongside us in this work. With their partnerships, BSS has been able to support Bible translation and distribution works in Singapore, Asia and the Middle East, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Egypt. Most recently, BSS is supporting new Bible translation projects for minority communities in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam and China.
“Thank you for the Myanmar Bibles you gave us to give away freely… We made an announcement in church saying that [they] are only for pre-believers who want to read them, and all were taken up in just a few weeks!”—Ps Matthew Maung Myo Thu, Judson Baptist Church
In addition to print, BSS also seeks to utilise other platforms, such as audio and digital, to bring the gift of God’s Word to an even broader populace. The Word Intake for Spiritual Edification (WISE) programme, for example, enables people to listen to the Scriptures, and is especially helpful for those who face difficulties in reading, such as the elderly and the visually disabled. We are also developing a mobile app to reach more of the young and technologically-savvy with God’s Word. We pray that God will bring these plans to fruition!
Helping people understand the Bible
Yet simply owning the Bible is of no profit unless people are able to read it, as well as understand what they are reading. Bible engagement is therefore just as vital an objective of the global Bible Mission. As the UBS Mission Resource Centre for Bible Engagement, BSS is at the forefront of promoting Bible engagement especially in Asia Pacific, organising and supporting projects such as literacy programmes and trauma healing workshops in Singapore and beyond. Through these, people not only are able to interact with Scripture and grasp its life-giving message, but also improve their quality of life as they learn to apply the Bible’s teachings in different areas of their lives.
BSS also hosts events that help Bible Societies around the region work together in fulfilling the Bible Mission. One example is the International Bible Engagement Conference and Capacity Building Workshop, which BSS hosted on 31 July–3 August. It provided a platform for Bible Societies, especially in Asia and the Middle East, to share their expertise with one another, and introduced collaborative opportunities to serve the peoples of each other’s countries. In celebration of our 181st Anniversary, BSS also organised a Bible Mission Banquet, rallying various Christians to support the Bible Mission in serving different areas of need in our region and beyond.
Helping people experience the Bible
At the same time, Bible engagement means more than helping people learn about the Bible. It also means demonstrating and living out its truths, so that people may experience the light and hope it brings. This is especially relevant for communities frequently affected by disasters and unrest.
Therefore, BSS has resolved to serve these communities through holistic missions, seeking to meet their immediate needs. In previous years, BSS sent teams to participate in humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines, Lebanon and Nepal, taking not only Scripture materials but also basic daily necessities. More recently, we also helped in raising support for victims of the 2017 South Asian floods, and are presently working closely with Bible Societies in Bangladesh and Myanmar to aid the victims of the escalating Rohingya refugee crisis. We pray that through these acts of care and compassion, the people will know and embrace God’s love and salvation.
That the whole world may know
On another occasion, Lincoln described the Bible as “the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book.” We pray that through owning, engaging with and experiencing the Bible, the nations may know Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the world. All this is possible only with your continued support. Join us in realising this vision, and may God be glorified through it all!