International (MNN) — For years, Christians have been finding creative ways of bringing God’s Word into hostile nations. In countries where Christian material is banned, believers must depend on outside resources to receive a copy of Scripture. Now, one organization is putting the power in the hands of indigenous Christians.
Wycliffe Associates recently launched a program that enables native Christians to print the Bible on demand. A POD system of a computer and printer is installed in an unreached village, and a local Christian is trained to operate it. When a language group is ready to receive God’s Word, Scripture copies can be printed from a flash drive and secretly distributed.
“There are many places where it’s very difficult for believers to get their hands on Scriptures,” says David Reeves, Wycliffe Associates director of technology advancement. “And even as we help in Bible translation and help them be able to translate the Bible, eventually it has to be in some sort of form. While we encourage and help put it in digital forms…, there’s nothing quite like having a book in your hand.
“There are many places where, because of the people group’s limited number…they’re not an easy market, say, for a Bible society to want to print 100,000 copies of a Bible for them. It’s just not going to happen. So in order for them to be able to get their hands on it, a Print On Demand system allows that.”
The idea is nothing new. Many publishers in the U.S. use POD technology rather than producing large quantities of books at a time. But for many undeveloped or persecuted nations, that’s not accessible.
“Our brothers and sisters in the more remote parts of the world–particularly the more persecuted parts of the world–don’t have that option to them,” Reeves says. “So the Print On Demand system allows them to have readily accessible, low-volume print copies of Scripture, Scripture translation, and Scripture products in their area.”
POD technology may be a safer solution, but the work is still risky, both for Wycliffe Associates workers and Christians receiving the system. Many countries in which Wycliffe Associates is working are on the Open Doors World Watch list for Christian persecution. But despite hostility, native Christians are passionate about bringing God’s Word to their people.
“Generally we’ve been able to place systems quietly and discreetly in some very high-risk locations, but the believers want access to it. They’re the ones requesting this,” Reeves says. “This is not us pushing new systems toward them. They’re the ones saying, ‘We want this, we need it. Could you make this accessible for us [and] train us how to use it? We’ll take care of keeping it hidden and out of the way.'”
Wycliffe Associates is currently raising $225,000 for 15 POD systems. They’re not cheap: $15,000 will cover the cost of a base system. You can help financially. Of if you have a background in technology, you can help deploy the systems and train Christians on how to use them. Click here to get started.
You can also assist Wycliffe Associate’s mission by praying. Reeves asks for “prayers for safety for all, prayers that God would keep these resources hidden from those who wish to take them and destroy them, and allow the church to be able to use it effectively to reach the unreached around them.”