‘I can understand French with my ear and Swahili with my mind, but my own language I understand with my heart.’ – a pastor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Some Scripture – the whole Bible, the New Testament, or portions and stories – exists in almost 3,400 languages.
In addition, there are a huge number of related products including films, audio, children's versions, graphic novels, Bible studies and much more.
The goal of all these resources is that people know how (and why) to find Scripture in their own language – and in the language of anyone they want to share the good news of Jesus with – so that they can grow in relationship with him. The challenge is where to find them.
While 1 in 5 people worldwide don’t have the whole Bible available in their language, there are also many people in your community and around the world who simply don’t know that the Bible is freely available on their phone.
Many great websites already exist providing either the products themselves or indexes linking to them.
Finding print copies of Scripture
Once if you wanted Bibles in different languages you’d need to contact your local Bible society or specialist publisher or supplier. These are still good options, and sales from the Bible societies support ongoing work. Bibles can also often be found on Amazon.co.uk, bookdepository.com and other online stores.
Recently ‘print on demand’ technologies have made it possible to make many more print Bibles available this way. There may be distributors in your country or you may be able to order from outside.
More and more Scripture is available online and in digital form as apps, and even if you particularly want a print copy, the digital versions may still be a useful place to start as they nearly always include details of the publisher and author or copyright holder, which will enable you to search for print copies available near you. (Even free Bibles are covered by copyright, as this ensures that the people distributing the content do so with appropriate permission.)
‘Reading the Scripture in another language is like eating a banana with the skin on. Now the Scripture in my language is satisfying... like a sweet banana. I can't get enough of it.’ – a woman from Asia
Finding Scriptures online
Bible.com has over 2,020 versions in over 1,400 languages, each accessible online or via the Bible app. Many versions can be downloaded from the app for offline use. These site and app also have over 50 interface languages.
Bible.is provides text, audio and video in over 1,400 languages.
Most languages where Scripture is available digitally are available on both of these sites, but for now there are still a few available on one and not the other.
ScriptureEarth.org is both a directory and a source of online Scriptures. In addition to pointing to Scriptures on Bible.com and Bible.is it also makes a large number of minority language Scriptures available in a range of formats including pdf and modules for use in some Bible study software and links to individual apps created using software produced by SIL (Wycliffe’s primary partner organisation). These have the advantage of being able to be copied more easily from phone to phone in areas where access to the internet is difficult.
Both Scripture Earth and Find.Bible provide the opportunity to search by country and include alternate names for many languages.
New-Neighbour-Bible.org is specifically designed to help churches become aware of resources and languages spoken by refugees and other ‘new neighbours’. It has fewer languages than the bigger directories but gives more information about those languages and links to a wider range of resources and is currently available in English, French, German and Italian.
Finally, tastesee.org helps mission agencies, churches and communities looking to create new products navigate through some of the products available and consider what could help in their context.
‘Reading the Bible in English feels like swimming on the surface of the sea, but not knowing what’s below. With God’s word in my own language, it’s like wearing goggles – I can dive down deep and see everything clearly.’ – from Papua New Guinea
How can you get this message out? Here are some ideas:
- Link to online Bibles and Scripture resources from your church website and social media feeds.
- Share verses in other languages with friends and family.
- Put up a slide during your church service telling people where they can find Bibles in other languages.
- Share links to Scripture sites on cards and bookmarks.
- Learn how to find Scriptures on your own phone and show other people.
- Look for different ways things are advertised in your community and explore what would be appropriate.
- Get your church youth group to design and make their own find-a-bible t-shirts.
- Share your ideas and encourage others to get the word out!