International (MNN) — With religious freedom losing ground worldwide, getting Bibles to believers has become increasingly difficult. How do you publish a Bible in a country where Christianity isn't welcomed? Wycliffe Associates has found a way: Operation Timothy.
"Web sites, the Internet, mobile technology: those kinds of things are tools that we see as very useful in helping to advance Bible translation and Scripture distribution," says Wycliffe Associates' CEO Bruce Smith.
"In sensitive areas, mobile phones and Internet use draw less scrutiny than a Bible, and they give greater access."
In many areas, hostility is growing toward religion, especially non-Muslim religions. The challenge is how to equip believers in areas where Christians are targeted and where participation in evangelism can lead to arrest, beatings and even death. Smith says Operation Timothy gets the job done with digital publishing. Christians can pull up God's Word using their smartphone or other mobile device.
"They're able to use it in public, and in plain sight," Smith explains, "without people actually knowing what they're looking at…sort of hiding in plain sight, in a sense.
"It's definitely a trend that will continue to increase in the future. Many parts of the world are actually even ahead of the United States, in terms of the use of cellphones and mobile technology for their own communications."
Why was the project dubbed 'Operation Timothy'?
"It doesn't get too descriptive about what is actually happening," says Smith. "Yet, insiders in Christianity will recognize Timothy as a name that they know and as someone who was a partner in Paul's ministry."
While work has already begun on Operation Timothy, funding is needed for servers, coding, additional bandwidth, and more. Smith says their goal is to raise $100,000 to fund operations that would make the Bible accessible through the Internet and mobile phones.
"Those are the ways that people can get involved in their stewardship and help others to be sure that they have access to Scripture in their location," said Smith.
Call 1-800-THE-WORD to learn more about this project and to partner with Wycliffe Associates.