When a militant from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) finds copies of the Bible in an Iraqi church, he burns them, hoping to erase their influence. When a girl in Tanzania is caught reading God’s Word, her father beats her. When the Vietnamese police raid a Bible distribution effort in Hmong tribal territory, they confiscate the Bibles as if they were illegal drugs.
Wherever the Bible poses a threat, it is treasured by our brothers and sisters in Christ, who consider it a holy and precious necessity. Voice of the Martyrs works diligently to get God’s Word into restricted nations, distributing more than 1.2 million Bibles in 2015.
For many years, VOM workers have travelled to very remote areas to distribute high-quality printed Bibles to believers hungry for God’s Word. VOM places a special emphasis on the Bibles’ quality.
It’s a joy to provide God’s Word in the language of the people. We often see tears falling from believers’ eyes when they receive their own Bible and their emotion overcomes them. The Word is so precious that some even sleep with their Bible on their heart, not wanting God’s Word to depart from them. When we hear these reports or witness this firsthand, it spurs us on in our efforts to deliver more Bibles into the hands of believers.
With advances in technology, VOM is continually seeking new ways to meet the needs of our persecuted family. We use a variety of formats, including print, digital and audio Bibles, to best suit the specific needs in each region. In addition, we distribute specialised Bibles, including visually stunning versions for children and large-print editions for the elderly, to reach different demographics.
The digital Gospel
As the world becomes increasingly digital, so do Bible distribution efforts. This is exciting for Christians who work to spread the Gospel in difficult areas. A digital Bible, whether in a visual or audio format, is more secure, easier to share and safer to use in hostile and restricted nations.
With the advent of smartphones, it has become simple and cost effective to supply complete Bibles in many languages to believers to read and share with others. We have successfully distributed Bibles, Christian literature and even audio files in restricted nations on microchips, USB drives and secure digital (SD) cards. One added benefit is the fact that it is much harder for authorities to recognise that you are carrying God’s Word when it is on your phone.
Digital content is also easy to share in public. For instance, by using bump file transferring technology, a Christian on a bus in India can transfer Gospel materials to an interested Hindu simply by bumping his smartphone against the other person’s smartphone. Believers can also provide access to Christian resources through a public Wi-Fi connection.
Audio Bibles are an important part of VOM’s digital Bible distribution. They are easier to get into restricted nations and are perfect for people who are unable to read. Audio Bibles enable Christians throughout the world to listen to the Scriptures while they work. VOM also distributes MP3 players and SD cards.
VOM Australia has frequently received requests from believers in restricted and hostile nations for audio Bibles. We normally provide these on MP3 or MP4 players, which are loaded with an audio Bible, plus popular Christian songs and a selection of topical sermons in their language. We always use a good quality player that is common in the country and does not draw any attention to the user.
For security reasons we never use a commercial copying service, but have our own recording centres where we load the files onto the players securely and prayerfully.
Helping children and the elderly
While children’s Bibles are nothing new, getting them into the hands of children in hostile and restricted nations is vitally important for VOM. For decades we have used the popular He Lived Among Us book, which has been printed in many languages throughout the world and pioneered the new comic book style illustrations for newer versions available today.
VOM is also helping the elderly, who often can’t read small-print Bibles, to experience God’s Word once again or for the first time. We have distributed large print Bibles in many countries.
Zhang Fengyun, a believer in China, said, “When I was helpless, you brought the big-sized Bible to me, which enabled me to read the Bible again. Only the words in the Bible can bring me light and inspiration.”