Bible Ministry Highlights: Celebrating American Bible Society’s Bicentennial

Reflecting on God's Faithfulness to American Bible Society from 1816 to 2016

Today, American Bible Society is celebrating 200 years of seeing the Bible change lives in the U.S. and around the world. Since 1816, the methods of Bible ministry have changed—advances in technology and communication have made the Bible available in hundreds of languages and in digital formats—but the need for God’s Word in people’s hearts and lives is the same as it was 200 years ago.

As part of the celebration taking place at American Bible Society’s headquarters in Philadelphia, we’ve gathered a few highlights of Bible ministry from the last 200 years.

1. Bibles for sailors, 1817

American Bible Society distributed Bibles to sailors aboard the USS John Adams. Today, American Bible Society still provides Bibles and Bible resources to the military and their families.

2. God’s Word for the visually impaired, 1835

A $1,000 contribution to the New England Institution for the Blind in 1845 helped produce the first Scriptures for the visually impaired. Almost a century later, in 1931, American Bible Society presented author, activist and Bible advocate Helen Keller with a Braille Bible.

3. The New Testament for U.S. Troops, 1914

During World War I, American Bible Society distributed an Army and Navy Edition of the New Testament to U.S. troops. Thirty years later, during World War II, American Bible Society distributed 7.4 million copies of Scripture to members of the armed forces.

4. Production of the Good News Bible, 1976

American Bible Society published the translation Good News for Modern Man to provide readers with a contemporary, easy-to-understand Bible translation. By 1981, more than 30 million copies had been sold.

5. Scripture for Olympic athletes and spectators, 1984

When the Summer Olympics came to Los Angeles in 1984, American Bible Society provided more than four million Scripture Portions to athletes and spectators. American Bible Society also distributed Scripture during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

6. God’s Word for survivors of the Sept. 11th terrorist attack, 2001

In response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, American Bible Society published a Scripture Portion in English, Spanish and Chinese to support those coping with heartbreak and loss. More than one million copies were distributed at Ground Zero and in other locations around New York City.

7. Digital Production of the Contemporary English Version (CEV), 2008

American Bible Society produced a digital copy of the CEV Bible for use on Amazon Kindle and other e-readers. The Bible, first printed in 1985, provides readers with a modern, accessible Scripture translation.

8. Digital Bible Library debuts, 2012

To create a central location for digital Bible translations, American Bible Society helped launch the Digital Bible Library. The library houses hundreds of standardized, quality-controlled Scripture texts, which can be distributed to ministry partners around the world.

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