I am sure that God, who began this work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus Philippians 1:26

Last month, throughout the course of one week, the United Bible Societies’ (UBS) World Assembly took place in Philadelphia, USA. The World Assembly, which typically meets every six years, is the highest decision-making body in UBS and is attended by the General/Executive Secretary of each Bible Society, as well as the Board Chair from each member Bible Society. This is an extremely important gathering as it strategically determines what direction the UBS Fellowship will take and what the vision and purpose of the Bible Societies will be in the coming years.

We come together as fellowship, a community, we’re not an organisation, we are not an institution but we are a fellowship that is bound together in Christ.
Michael Perreau, United Bible Societies Director General

350 delegates from Bible Societies all over the world, guests, church representatives and partner organisations joined together in Philadelphia to discuss and review the work of the Fellowship under the theme ‘God’s Word: Living Hope for All’. Rev Dr Rudi Zimmer highlighted that it is more than just the theme for the week’s events,

It’s the unshakable rock on which our mission is built.
Rev Dr Rudi Zimmer, United Bible Societies Global Council Chair

Together the delegates shared and reflected on some of the encouraging work that has been done over the past few years by Bible Societies all around the world as the Word of God continues to reach many people and change their lives.

Significant progress has been made in Bible translation since 2010: Bible Societies have translated 116 full Bibles and 63 New Testaments. The Bible is in more demand than ever before with 2.5 billion printed Scriptures being distributed by Bible Societies between 2010 and 2015, including 190 million full Bibles. Bible Societies are reaching out to those in suffering, with more than 40 Bible Societies running Bible-based trauma healing programs to try and help the thousands of people who have been affected by war, violence, disease and poverty.

Attention also focused on the diverse situations the global Church is facing today. There is still a desperate need throughout the world for more of the Bible Societies’ good work.

In 1946, a year after the end of WWII, in a world crying out for hope, United Bible Societies was formed. Our world is crying out for hope today, too, and only the Word of God can bring the hope we need. More than ever, our mission as Bible Societies continues to be relevant, and a solution to human hopelessness.
Rev Dr Rudi Zimmer, United Bible Societies Global Council Chair

Bible Societies around the world face diverse and sometimes extremely difficult situations. This is just one of many reasons why the decisions made at the World Assembly are so important. This vital meeting can make such a positive difference to the success of the Bible Societies’ united mission of bringing the Word to the world.

Discussion taking place among the delegates at the World Assembly.

Discussion taking place among the delegates at the World Assembly.

The delegates discussed ‘The Suffering Church’ – those facing persecution, poverty and violence all over the world as a result of their faith. In the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, only 4% of the population are Christians. They recognised ‘The Changing Church’: many parts of the West used to be strongholds for the Church but now in recent years they have come under pressure from a rise in secularism. Many people feel that the Bible isn’t relevant to their everyday lives, particularly the younger generation. 43% of the world’s population is under 25 years old and as a result of this and alongside the progression of technology, the digital world has become an increasingly important tool in making the Bible available to everyone.

The delegates spent the course of the week discussing these rising issues and working towards creating a strategic document that will guide the work of the Bible Societies over the next 6 years. The Philadelphia Promise affirms the central place of Bible translation in the Fellowship’s work, and identifies eight priorities for Bible Societies to focus on, ranging from building leadership capacity to developing work among particular audiences.

This week we have journeyed in a shared pursuit of the conviction that everyone should have access to the truth of the Word of God. We have arrived together at a milestone, at a promise – our Philadelphia Promise – to those who do not yet have the book of truth.
Sarah Starrenburg, World Assembly Project Manager

Elaine Duncan, our Chief Executive who attended the World Assembly last month shared her experience and some encouraging words as we continue on in our united mission:

It was an enormous privilege to be with such a large and diverse crowd of people from across the globe.  Our unity in Jesus Christ and our shared commitment to Bible ministry was a joy to experience.  We each return to our home countries with a big task ahead of us.  We look to our great God to use each Bible Society for his glory and for the building of his Kingdom.

Thank you for your continued support and prayer for all the work that we do here at SBS and the great impact that this has on the United Bible Societies mission of bringing the Word of God to the world.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the fruitful work of the United Bible Societies and the positive impact that it has around the world.
  • Pray that the issues recognised as important to prioritise and focus on in the UBS mission will begin to see positive change throughout the world.
  • Pray for the delegates as they go back to their home countries that they will be filled with determination and drive to put in to practice the Philadelphia Promise.