Entering a Third Century of Providing God’s Word

American Bible Society will focus on Scripture engagement in the United States and worldwide translation.

Imagine a world where daily Bible reading is on the rise—in coffee shops, churches, homes and communities. In the heart of cities, Scripture becomes central to everyday life. Instead of gathering dust on the shelf, Bibles become dog-eared with use, the pages highlighted, underlined and shared with loved ones and new friends alike.

In this world, the words don’t just stay in people’s minds, they transform their hearts and lives. Ministry springs forward from conviction. God speaks through the pages of his Word, and people listen and respond.

This is the driving passion of American Bible Society and of every one of its faithful financial partners.

In our nation, we stand at a critical crossroads. According to American Bible Society’s 2014 State of the Bible report:

  • More than a quarter of American adults never read the Bible.
  • The number of people who love the Bible now equals the number of Bible skeptics.
  • Although 88 percent of households own a Bible, only 37 percent of people read it once a week or more.

“Can you imagine a “Bible-less Christianity?” asks American Bible Society President and CEO Dr. Roy Peterson. “Of course not! But when you look at the deep declines of Scripture engagement here in our nation, you start to consider this as an actual possibility.”

The consequences of this disconnect from God’s Word can be felt across the country. But the problem is especially urgent in our rapidly growing urban centers, where people often feel broken and hopeless.

“There is an almost meteoric rise of Bible skeptics in our nation—numbers that have effectively doubled in just the last four years. So, for the first time in our research, the percentage of Bible skeptics now exactly equals the percentage of America’s engaged Bible champions (19%),” Dr. Peterson notes.

That’s why, as American Bible Society enters its third century of ministry, God is preparing us, along with our passionate and dedicated partners, to respond to this most urgent need of our times. In 2016, American Bible Society will celebrate 200 years of providing the hope of God’s Word around the world. But we know there is still a lot of work to do.

Together with our partners, we are embarking on a prayerful plan to significantly increase Bible engagement, focusing our efforts on joining where God is already at work, bringing new hope from Scripture to America’s urban hubs and hard places all around the world.

“How do we start to turn this rising tide of skepticism, distraction and dislocation from God’s Word?” asks Dr. Peterson. “To begin with, we need to learn to think like a cross-cultural missionary, longing to learn and discover and then ‘translate’ the Gospel into their unique context to allow it to come alive in fresh hearts.”

In the United States, we are partnering with churches and Christian city movements to champion the Gospel cause, so that the central message “God so loved the world” can begin to shape the cultural fabric of our nation and the people within it.

We are aiming to increase meaningful Scripture engagement from 46 million in the United States to 100 million people, introducing a fresh discovery of God’s Word alongside our ministry partners and customized Scripture resources.

“For so many, the cry of their heart is: ‘show me how God’s Word can make a difference. Show me how the broken pieces of my heart and life can get made whole.’ We’re committed to inviting the power of God’s Word to bring together churches and ministries and families—entering deeply into lives and communities. It’s not shying away from the hurts and brokenness to be found there, but entering in exactly as Christ did, living and loving among our neighbors,” Dr. Peterson explains.

In this way, we will help people encounter Jesus in a personal way with a foundation in Scripture as, together, we build a solid foundation for true change.

God’s Word knows no boundaries, nor does the global mission to which we are called. We hear the cries from our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who long to engage God’s Word in their heart language. To answer that call, we are working with our global partners to make it possible to engage God’s Word in 100% of the world’s by 2026.

This work will help people groups like the Nsenga speakers in Zambia, who have to worship and read Scripture in their second or third language, because there is no Bible written in their heart language. Nsenga speakers who only know their heart language have no access to God’s Word at all. Recently, the Nsenga Gospel of Mark was dedicated and launched, and for the first time 500 people heard Scripture at church in their mother tongue.

With God’s help, American Bible Society and our faithful partners will work to see Scripture reach all who long for God’s Word in their heart language, including the speakers of approximately 1,860 languages without access to even one verse.

As you can see, our mission focuses on Bible engagement in its truest sense: connecting with God in a meaningful way and experiencing the life change that happens through his precious Word. We do so with enormous gratitude to God for His grace in granting us the ability to persevere in the eternal work of Bible provision.

We are also indebted to our prayer and financial partners who, over the years, have enthusiastically prayed and participated in the Bible mission that God has called them to support. We are bound together in a movement under God’s guidance that has transformed lives for nearly 200 years and will continue to bring thousands closer to Christ through Scripture in the decades to come.

“No matter what the age or the language,” says Dr. Peterson, “we all ultimately need the same thing: God’s Word speaking into the heart of our lives, opening up the big and eternal promises of the Gospel.”

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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