When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia in December 2010 to protest police corruption, neither he nor anyone watching his act of self-immolation could have predicted the result: a tidal wave of protest that swept from country to country across North Africa and the Middle East, toppling regimes and entire governments.
In just over a month, rulers were forced out not only in Tunisia, but also in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Many other nations were impacted, and before a relative peace was restored, at least 180,000 people had died. Six million more had been displaced.
Syria erupted in civil war. It is estimated that approximately 400,000 people have died and more than 11 million have been displaced in this ongoing conflict.
It is debatable whether the so-called “Arab Spring” brought greater openness or greater risk for those serving God’s Kingdom. What is certain, however, is that it intensified the need to get God’s message of hope to the people of this region of the world.
Biblica continues to share God’s Word with people in eighteen nations in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as with hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into Europe. One powerful way of making the Bible available in these volatile areas is through digital formats. Biblica’s Bible translations and children’s Bible materials have been downloaded more than 285,000 times.
The Bible is also reaching people in print form through book fairs. Once forbidden and targeted for attacks, God’s Word is increasingly being sought out and read. In one nation alone, more than 95,000 Scriptures and Christians books were sold through book fairs.
“The ability to participate in book fairs in countries which have been closed to the Bible for decades is a great success,” writes one of the program coordinators.
At one book fair in North Africa, the Minister of Culture visited the Biblica booth. “She was impressed and surprised to see Bibles,” reports a staff member. And she commented: “’In our country we need to understand what others believe. I’m glad to see Bibles on your shelves, they don’t exist in any other stand.”
Providing Bibles for those fleeing their homelands is another critical part of Biblica’s ministry. Over 250,000 pieces of Scripture were sent to Europe last year for distribution to refugees and displaced people.
The Bible gives light and understanding. It is a lamp, illuminating the path of salvation. And it is shining into this region, penetrating the spiritual darkness that has cloaked it for centuries, keeping hearts and minds from seeing the truth of Christ.
Please pray as we continue to share God’s Word throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
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