As stories of war, violence and persecution continue to fill the news, it is encouraging to hear and share of how the Bible, even during these hard times, is providing a source of hope and comfort for those affected by conflict.

Mathai’s Story (name changed to protect his identity)
– Reflections from a Syrian refugee

When Mathai, 46, discovered that he was going to be next in line to be beheaded by a local IS (Islamic State) gang, who were on the rampage against Christian men in his Syrian hometown, he knew he had to flee. He made sure his wife and three children were safe, and then set off on a long and perilous journey across the border to Lebanon, and into Turkey and then onto Greece by boat. From there he trekked through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary before finally arriving in Austria.

Sometimes I was afraid. But mostly just so tired, so tired, so exhausted.

It was in Austria that Mathai found help from Christian brothers and sisters, who gave him a safe place to stay and helped him lodge an asylum application. What’s more, our colleagues at the Austrian Bible Society gave him what is now his prize possession – a large-print Arabic Bible.

This Bible tells me I’m not alone, it reminds me that every human is loved by God and has a value. Whenever I think of my wife and children I’m very afraid, but when I turn to the Bible I see light.

Scripture is also helping Mathai to deal with the trauma as he learns about forgiveness.

I particularly turn to passages in the Bible that are about forgiveness; it helps me when I think of all the people who have done awful things in my country. Jesus experienced the same and forgave his enemies. I am following Jesus.

Greetings from Church of Voitsberg, Austria
– A letter of great thanks and encouragement

Refugees arrive daily to Austria in great numbers. A large proportion of those arriving are from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The Austrian Bible Society distributes the Bible to churches ministering to refugees. It is receiving reports from churches across the country of refugees showing growing interest in God’s Word. One message in particular, an email sent to Dr Jutta Henner, General Secretary of the Austrian Bible Society touched the hearts of the Society’s staff team.

“Dear Dr Henner!

On behalf of the Lutheran Church of Voitsberg, but especially on behalf of the many asylum seekers, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you and the Austrian Bible Society.

 At the end of March two Iranians turned up in our church. They had visited us before to attend German classes, but now they wanted to attend the Sunday service. Shortly afterwards they asked us for Bibles in Farsi. So I wrote to you asking for help. I was very grateful to receive 20 Farsi Bibles. I thought these Bibles would be sufficient for quite a while. We also received from you the On the Road Bible Study booklet for refugees. The Bibles and the booklet have been a blessing for our friends! I do not know how thank you!

The Austrian Bible Society provided Bibles in Farsi for Iranian members of a church in Voitsberg.

The Austrian Bible Society provided Bibles in Farsi for Iranian members of a church in Voitsberg.

You should have seen the eyes of these young men and women. I have never before seen such gratitude. They have been hugging me and I had to write dedications in the Bibles. Now, for the first time in their lives, they can read the Good News of Jesus Christ without fear of persecution.

The number of people attending our Sunday service has been increasing ever since! Two weeks ago, the Austrians were in the minority for the first time.

There were 23 Austrians, joined by 25 new Iranian friends! Again and again there were questions about the Bible. So we started a “Bible School”. We worked according to the guidelines for baptism candidates of our Lutheran Church in Austria. We started with the Bible, Old and New Testament. But our friends were not satisfied with information about the Bible: they wanted to read the Word of God! Therefore we selected Scripture passages and these were read in Farsi as well as in German. I have never seen people so deeply moved. Also the ‘homework’ to read the entire book of Proverbs brought them great joy. Everybody looks forward to the next Sunday: they are so eager to learn more about Jesus and to read more of the Bible together.

All of this is such a special experience. I don’t know how to express what is happening. It is such a joy for them to be able to study the Word of God together. It is a privilege to be part of such a great thing! The only sad thing is that I do not speak Farsi and our friends are not yet fluent in German. But thanks to the Holy Spirit we overcome this obstacle!

Again, heartfelt thanks – and our friends can’t wait for the next delivery of Bibles. Warmest greetings and God’s abundant blessings!

Dietmar Boehmer, 
ChurchWarden, Lutheran Church ofVoitsberg”

It is so encouraging to hear of the successful work that Bible Societies throughout the world are doing as they help to provide a source of hope and comfort to those affected by conflict. Even amidst war and persecution, God’s Word is positively changing people’s lives and helping them find strength.

Please pray for those who have been affected by war, violence and persecution that they may be kept safe and find comfort in God’s Word. Pray for the different Bible Societies as they continue in their mission of bringing the Word to the world, that they will bring help and support to displaced and affected people.

Find out how you can help support persecuted Christians in Iraq   Learn More