International (MNN) — Which would you rather have, a digital copy of a book or a paper edition you can hold in your hands? For many underground churches around the world, Wycliffe Associates’ tech guru David Reeves says the answer is a hard copy.
“They really want to have this. They can have it in their hands, it doesn’t require any power, it doesn’t need to be recharged, and they can hide it in various locations.”
These requests caught Wycliffe Associates by surprise. They had been focusing on apps and digital Bibles, but as it turns out, that’s not what the believers want, and it doesn’t really suit their purposes.
However, with this new approach comes new challenges.
“We’re involved in so many new Bible translations in so many locations that are getting further and further out on the fringe of what’s going on.”
Many of the languages that have yet to be translated are trapped behind hostile governments and religious fanaticism. That means any printing of new translations needs to be completely secret.
“They’ve got to do it themselves quietly back someplace where no one’s aware of it.”
So Wycliffe Associates began a new project trying to create a machine compact enough to transport secretly, and yet functional enough to print thousands of copies of the New Testament.
“A Print On Demand system just kind of [designed to] blend in and hide. Our brothers and sisters are using them to print freshly published Scripture in places we otherwise wouldn’t be able to get them to.”
And the new printers are already making a difference in areas like the Middle East, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and north-eastern Nigeria. “Places like that where you’re not gonna ship Bibles in and out in a cargo container.”
So far, the results have been highly successful.
“Our brothers in the Middle East in the past year printed over 190,000 publications, either books or short booklets, things like that, just in the one year they’ve had the equipment in their locations.”
But even though the Print On Demand systems greatly reduce the risks, printing Scripture is still a dangerous business.
“There are security risks, and our brothers and sisters realize that. They’re willing to take those risks and some even paid with their lives in taking those risks. Early this year in the Middle East we had a location where it was discovered and four brothers were killed there at that location. One survived, but we’ll replace that system because they wanna keep printing.”
Believers are hungry enough for the Gospel that they are willing to risk their lives for a simple paper copy of the New Testament in their own language. Wycliffe Associates is doing all they can to keep up with the overwhelming demand for Bibles.
“[It can be] frustrating sometimes because things don’t fall into place, so [we need] prayer for logistics, prayer for safety for all in this process. We have staff traveling literally around the globe, 24/7 almost, helping keep all this moving forward and responding to new opportunities.”
If you want to help with donations for these Print On Demand systems with Wycliffe Associates, we’ll connect you right here.
Remember and pray for our brothers and sisters as they secretly distribute the Word of God into the hands of those who so desperately need hope.