Millions of Bibles

CAM tries to keep pace with global demand

Jun 9, 2014 by

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Christian Aid Ministries, based in Berlin, Ohio, takes a detailed approach to its year-end accounting of distributed aid.

2,493,884 pounds of rice. Three washing machines. 4,127,990 Ibuprofen tablets. Four chicken barns. 323,144 syringes. 175 sickles. 21,895 pairs of new socks. The most recent annual report for the conservative Anabaptist organization notes 80 hives of bees were given away in 2013.

In addition to Ibuprofen and bees — a match made in heaven — religious printed materials such as Bibles, magazines and tracts have been disseminated since the organization began in 1981.

While CAM handed out anywhere from 154,000 to 622,000 Bibles annually over the past decade, that number skyrocketed last year to almost 2 million — many of which were delivered to readers in 25 Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries where Christians are in the extreme minority. Only 28,987 of the 1,970,054 Bibles were in English.

CAM says demand for Bibles around the world is huge. The spike in Bibles given out comes after increases in both distribution capabilities and financial contributions. Working with contacts around the world, CAM provides funding to either ship Bibles or print them in countries where they are distributed.

Still, funding can’t keep pace with foreign demand or logistical opportunities. CAM’s liaison for international projects said he hears of Christians creating their own Bibles by copying down verses heard on television or radio.

Based on reports it receives, CAM believes “basically, each copy is read. In many cases, multiple readers will read one Bible. In one country where we provide large numbers of Bibles, our contact estimates that for every Bible distributed, two to three people come to faith in Christ.”

CAM considers Christian literature distribution both a privilege and a responsibility, and with good reason. When Christ ascended from the Mount of Olives into heaven, his final words were focused on spreading his story: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Sa­maria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

While Ascension Day (typically 40 days after Easter, May 29 this year) is a public holiday in much of Europe and some other countries, most North American Christians hardly notice it. But obeying Christ’s final words is more important than focusing one day on Christ departing his earthly role. By distributing millions of Bibles, CAM places itself in a daily celebration of sharing Christ in hard-to-reach corners, preparing others for their own final, detailed accounting.

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