What’s the cost of owning a Bible? In America and much of the West, the reply might be, That depends, is it leather bound? But in China along the border with North Korea, I heard other answers during my visit last year: It might cost you your life being among them. Facing a reality so divergent from my own, it came as no surprise that believers there, and in other parts of the world where persecution is intense, are willing to risk their lives to own a Bible—even one not bound in leather.
During that visit I met some courageous Christian brothers and sisters who operate safe houses on the North Korean border. They provide Bibles to North Koreans defecting to South Korea. They also provide digital Bibles for Christians who risk their lives to obtain food and other necessities in China, then return to their families in North Korea. The safe house operators are in just as much danger as the North Korean Christians, for, if captured, they too face imprisonment, torture and execution.
The Strategic Bibles Ministry of Heaven’s Family distributed about 17,000 Bibles to extremely poor believers around the world in 2016, touching the lives of possibly 25,000 or more converted Muslims, refugees and communist-oppressed believers as each in turn shared the Word of God with family and friends.
Bibles are key to the success of national missionaries because they are their source for teaching, encouraging and guiding their converts (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and they counter the spread of false doctrines. It’s also a “great evangelist,” according to an Omani pastor we support who credits reading of the Bible for 30% of Muslim conversions to Christ.
Similar costs are being paid elsewhere. One partner we supply Muslim Outreach Bibles to in Afghanistan and Pakistan has led over 10,000 Muslims to Christ in six years—but at the cost of 44 of their members’ lives. Four members from the churches our Omani partner pastors were murdered by their own Muslim families, and three are wasting away in prison. Our Iranian partners have had eight pastors martyred since 1979, and hundreds of believers who have been imprisoned.
Our suffering brothers and sisters need our help, and owning a Bible is one of their most precious desires. On behalf of the voiceless thousands who received that blessing in 2016, I thank you!