In March and April 2020, a survey among Bible Societies painted a worrying picture of how Covid-19 was impacting their work: around 30 were in ‘critical’ condition, and another 65 were ‘at risk’ if restrictions continued for much longer. Basically, two-thirds of Bible Societies worldwide were facing serious difficulties.
‘I was in despair and had sleepless nights,’ admits Valente Tseco, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Mozambique.
Covid was adding to the suffering caused by the devastation of two cyclones in 2019. Also, Mozambique, just like the Sahel region that we are currently supporting in an appeal, was beset by war and Islamist terrorism. Valente and his team were determined to continue making Scripture available but things were getting very difficult as lockdown restrictions hit and Scripture sales plummeted.
How would the Bible Society be able to keep operating and pay salaries? How could it pay its bills? And yet, how could it not continue its work of making God’s word available to people at this most crucial of times?
Future path of Bible ministry
Ivone Sequera was delighted to get a Bible in 2020.
These worries were echoed in every region of the world as Bible Society leaders grappled with similar scenarios. Their fate would determine not just the future path of Bible ministry in individual countries but also the ability to advance Bible ministry globally.
As the skies darkened, sister Bible Societies rallied together and set up the Solidarity Fund, also known as the Rescue and Recovery Fund. The aim was, and still is, to ensure that Bible Societies whose operations have been particularly badly hit are able to keep their doors open so that God’s word continues to be made available at this pivotal time and into the future.
Eighteen Bible Societies have contributed so far, with their gifts totalling almost £3 million. In England and Wales alone, though our Solidarity appeal, people like you have so far raised an incredible £630,000. A Scripture donation programme worth £363,000 is supplementing this financial support and helping Bible Societies to get back on their feet.
All of this, of course, was made possible by the generosity of Bible Society supporters, not only here in England and Wales but also the world over. Without your kind giving, Bible Societies would have had to permanently close their doors in many countries, depriving those nations of a local base for Bible mission, and delaying or denying access to Scriptures for countless people.
Help for 60 struggling Bible Societies
The amount raised so far takes us close to our mid-range target of £3.7 million, which could support 50 Bible Societies in total. However, it is hoped that the fund will reach £5 million and provide help for 60 struggling Bible Societies.
Eight months on, more than 35 Bible Societies who would otherwise have struggled to survive have received support, with more applications in the pipeline for consideration by the Solidarity Fund Oversight Group.
‘We feel relieved, happy and blessed!’ said Valente when he received the news that the Bible Society of Mozambique would be receiving both funding and Scriptures. ‘This means that God won’t allow Covid-19 to stop the plan for his people to get his word.
‘We’ll restructure our Bible Society to ensure a sustainable and healthy organisation, boost our online Scripture distribution and fundraising and implement projects that were halted by the pandemic.’
Ivone Sequera was one of many Christians to benefit from the support given to the Bible Society in Mozambique. ‘The pandemic closed the church and I didn’t have a Bible. This Bible came at the right time in my life,’ she said.
Pray: Please pray for Bible Societies whose operations have been badly affected by the pandemic. Ask God to give them wisdom, creativity and strength as they seek ways to continue to serve the audiences in their nations in very difficult circumstances. Pray also for ongoing fundraising efforts that will allow more Bible Societies to receive the help they need.