SE Asia (MNN) — Economies in Southeast Asia are feeling the sting of extended COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. A new report shows unemployment’s on the rise, and restrictions negatively affected countries that depend on tourism and exports.
Financial instability is one of the factors making people in the region desperate. John Pudaite of Bibles For The World mentions another.
“With COVID-19 having swept across this region from China out to the neighboring countries, we just see a hunger to know the truth, a hunger for hope,” Pudaite says. Above all else, there’s “hunger for healing [that] is found only in God’s Word.”
Together with its in-country partners, Bibles For The World is working on a new initiative to meet this growing demand for Bibles. “We’re seeing requests for Scriptures from our partners all over this region, even from Wuhan, China, the very source of this COVID-19 pandemic,” Pudaite says.
“Just recently, we provided 50,000 Gospels of John to the believers there because they said, ‘[Many people are] asking us questions, asking us to explain what it means – the Christian faith.’”
A spiritual harvest in Asia
Bibles For The World’s “Harvest in Asia” campaign aims to flood Southeast Asia with the Gospel. “We’re going to have a very concentrated focus on reaching out to different countries in Asia with God’s Word,” Pudaite says.
Building on its historical base in India, Bibles For The World has expanded into surrounding countries in recent years. Teams began work in neighboring Nepal a few years ago, and there have been occasional Bible distributions in China and Cambodia.
The new “Harvest in Asia” initiative focuses Bibles For The World’s efforts on areas with the most significant potential impact.
“More than half of the world’s population lives within a three-hour flight radius [of] a point in northern Thailand. Similarly, more than half of the world’s unreached people groups are in this area,” Pudaite explains.
Beginning in Vietnam, Pudaite and his team will assemble a network of churches and ministries to start Bible distribution planning. “We’re looking forward, if God allows and as things open up post-COVID-19, that we will be in there later this year,” Pudaite says.
“We just see tremendous hunger for God’s Word from the countries in Southeast Asia. They’re seeking the Lord, and this is a time that we want to be there. We want to help provide the answers that they’re looking for.”
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Sarthak Navjivan via Unsplash.