Some 88 locations involved in translating and sending Bibles across the world are at threat of closure due to funding, with a £5 million scheme being launched to maintain people’s access to the word of God.
The Bible Society, which funds translations and distributes scripture worldwide, has warned that 88 of their branches may be forced to close as lockdown has meant they have been unable to sell Bibles or fundraise in local churches.
The money made from selling Bibles is normally reinvested in local translation work in minority languages, re-translations or providing access to the Bible.
The charity says the threat of closures globally could mean Bibles would no longer be easily available for more than 245 million people.
Not having access to the Bible also has a knock-on social impact as the Societies often help people become literate and work with children who don’t have access to education.
Oldi Morava, director of international mission for the Bible Society in England, told Premier: "For many places, especially for those countries where Christianity is a minority, or for those very vulnerable countries, Bible Societies tend to be one of the few and only places where Christian communities can access the Bible. Whether that is because Bible Societies are probably one of the few agencies who are working towards a translation or maybe because they are the only legal entity in the country who have been given permission to distribute the Bible."
He added: "Around 1 billion people will not be receiving a new translation or a revision of a translation."
In response, other Bible Societies and churches around the world are now raising £5 million collectively to keep them alive.
Among the first countries to receive funds will be Gambia, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica.
Morava explained how, apart from financial giving, Christians can help: "Every time someone opens the Bible, whether it is a physical Bible or a digital format, just spend 30 seconds and think about all the effort that has gone into translating that Bible, all the effort that has gone into producing it and all the effort that has gone into distributing, circulating and advocating for it.
"And as you think about all that work, I would ask everyone to spend a few seconds to pray for all the similar work that is going on around the world. I think that sense of praying and supporting each other as part of a global church is very significant during this time."