Emergency Spiritual Relief

Christians Have Shared the Comfort of God’s Word through Every Crisis, Including This One

War. Terrorism. Disease. Famine. Earthquakes, fires, and floods.

Throughout history, the Word of God has comforted people as they endure the ravages of a fallen world. Nothing brings peace in the midst of tribulation like the Bible.

Since our founding in 1816, American Bible Society has been on the frontlines of Bible ministry. Just as doctors, nurses, firefighters, and EMTs meet our physical needs when disaster strikes, we provide urgent spiritual relief through the Word of God. Partners like you have always been at our side, praying and giving to show tangible love to neighbors in crisis.

Together, we have been meeting urgent spiritual needs for more than 200 years. Because of your faithful partnership, American Bible Society has shared millions of Bibles and Scripture resources to people in desperate need. We believe God has uniquely called us to share His Word in times of crisis.

As we endure the COVID-19 pandemic together, let us remember our shared history of Bible ministry. This not our first pandemic. By God’s grace, we have been able to provide spiritual first aid to the quarantined, sick, and spiritually isolated as far back as the Spanish flu of 1918. God has empowered us for a time such as this.

With this look back, we remember God’s faithfulness and our partners’ generosity over the years.

American Civil War: 1861–1865

The Civil War was one of the first major American disasters faced by American Bible Society. God called us to share His love with a divided nation. We responded immediately, sharing millions of Bibles with soldiers during the war. When the conflict ended, we ministered to wounded veterans, along with countless civilians whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed in the war. We also had the joy

of distributing the Word of God to newly liberated slaves.

World War I: 1914–1918

We sent our brave Troops more than 6 million Bibles and New Testaments during and after World War I. For many in the trenches facing fear and death, these Scriptures solidified their faith. Our continued ministry brought God’s enduring peace to millions of Americans struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of the world’s most devastating war.

“It is true that war uncovers the bestial and the devilish in man, but it is just as true that it also reveals the divine. In these days of darkness and sorrow and death, men truly ‘seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him.’” —American Bible Society Annual Report, 1915

Flu Pandemic: 1918–1919

The Spanish influenza pandemic claimed the lives of 675,000 people in the United States and around 50 million people worldwide. Like COVID-19, it overburdened hospitals, wreaked havoc on the economy, and forced churches to close their doors. During that season of lament, donors like you stepped in to share God’s Word with a hurting world. Working directly with churches and Christian leaders around the nation, American Bible Society provided Bibles, New Testaments, and Scripture resources to millions of people in need—including those searching for God in their final hours.

“Literally thousands were comforted and saved reading God’s Word, given them by the Bible Society. Many breathed their last during the ‘flu’ epidemic, with the little khaki Testament under their pillow, or on the table nearby, and went to meet God in peace.” —American Bible Society Annual Report, 1919

The Great Mississippi Flood: 1927

The Great Mississippi Flood was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, displacing more than 630,000 people. America’s Black community was hit disproportionately hard as more than 200,000 Black families were forced to flee their homes. Many had no other option than to live in tents at relief camps, sometimes for years. During this period of crisis, American Bible Society was able to offer hope and healing through God’s Word, sharing more than 12,000 Bibles and 50,000 Gospels.

The Great Depression: 1929–1939

The Great Depression was more than an economic and financial collapse—it was a crisis of the American spirit. More than 60 million Americans directly suffered the effects of the depression—losing their jobs, their homes, their savings, and their senses of security. Malnutrition plagued the poor, and many children went door-to-door begging for scraps of food. The spiritual impact of these years of destitution is impossible to quantify.

By God’s grace, American Bible Society was prepared to share the comforts of the Gospel. We worked with the Civilian Conservation Corp to share more than 250,000 New Testaments. Through the Federal Emergency Relief Administration’s literacy program, we were able to provide invaluable Bibles that helped Americans meet Jesus, the Light of the World, in the Word in their darkest hour.

“No one can measure the financial loss that has been entailed by this economic depression. Neither is it possible to measure the spiritual loss that is undergone when restless men and women are being deprived of that which brings spiritual balance: the revelation of God.” —American Bible Society Annual Report, 1933

World War II: 1939–1945

The Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: World War II was a time of unparalleled devastation. More than 85 million people were killed. Nearly the entire world lived in fear. This global war and its parade of horrors exposed, more than anything else in our long history, the need for God’s guiding Word.

American Bible Society was called to the frontlines of spiritual relief. We shared more than 7 million Bibles, New Testaments, and Scripture resources during and after the war. We ministered to our brave Military and Veterans. We continued our long tradition of distributing Bibles throughout Europe. We took the Gospel to Japan, pointing people to Jesus in the wake of division and suffering. We put Bibles in churches, hospitals, orphanages, military bases, and thousands of homes around the world. Thanks to the eternal generosity of partners like you, God’s Word went forth in a time of desperate global need.

Collapse of

The Soviet Union: 1991

For God’s people, the Soviet Union was a 69-year reign of terror. The USSR’s regime was marked by government propaganda, mass surveillance, and the imprisonment of dissidents—including journalists, scientists, and church leaders whose messages did not conform to the state’s narrow scope of acceptable opinions. Increasingly, religion was forced out of public life. Bibles were confiscated, ransacked, or destroyed. More than 100,000 Russian clergy were executed. Eventually, atheism was taught as a fact in public schools.

Then, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. For American Bible Society, this was an urgent opportunity to share the Bible with millions of people who had been forced away from its truth. We began the “Gifts of Love” program to distribute more than 30 million Bibles throughout Russia and Eastern Europe over the course of four years. It was one of our largest, most far-reaching ministry efforts to date. There is no telling how many millions of people discovered God’s love for the first time through this amazing work of the Holy Spirit.

9/11 Terrorist Attack: 2001

Never forget. September 11, 2001 lives in infamy. At the time of the terror attacks, American Bible Society’s headquarters was just a few blocks from Ground Zero, the World Trade Center buildings in New York. Consequently, we were among the first on the scene. As courageous police, firefighters, EMTs, and other brave souls rushed into danger to provide emergency relief, we were called to provide front-line emergency spiritual relief.

American Bible Society prayed with and for thousands of New Yorkers—and the millions of people around the world grieving the loss of loved ones. We provided countless thousands of Bibles, New Testaments, Scripture resources, and devotionals in a time when people were desperately searching for peace. This attack hit close to home, and it revitalized our commitment to providing the hope of God’s Word in times of national crisis.

COVID-19 Crisis: 2020

Right now, millions of people are suffering in the wake of COVID-19. Thousands have died and left their loved ones to grieve in quarantine—often without even the comfort of a proper funeral. People have lost their jobs and businesses and are wracked with anxiety over affording groceries, paying rent, and managing the flood of monthly bills. Churches have been forced to limit or stop gathering together, making many believers face the pandemic without their community of faith.

COVID-19 is a medical crisis. It is a financial crisis. It is a mental health crisis. And it is a spiritual crisis. We are meeting this crisis head-on, as we have done for more than 200 years.

Today, that means providing emergency relief for people suffering the manifold effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are distributing thousands of Bibles to those searching for God. We are sharing devotionals and prayer guides for those who need spiritual support in moments of anxiety, loneliness, or despair. But most importantly: we are equipping the church to bring healing through the Bible-based trauma healing ministry.

Bible-based trauma healing helps people work through their suffering in light of God’s grace and the power of His Word. Millions of people have found new life through this ministry—from Rwandans overcoming the horrors of genocide to Syrian refugees fleeing the terrors of Isis. Now, in response to COVID-19, we are training thousands of church leaders worldwide to provide this life-transforming ministry. As people confront the pain caused by this pandemic, the church will be ready. The church will respond in faith, offering Bible-based healing in today’s moment of crisis.

By God’s grace, we have been preparing for this moment for more than 200 years. For generations, God has worked through partners like you and through his humble servants in Bible ministry to overcome crisis after crisis—preparing us for such a time as this.


Will you join American Bible Society’s emergency spiritual response? Your gift will give God’s peace to someone who needs it. Give today at give.bible/relief

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

Help us share God's Word where needed most.

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