200 Years of Shining God’s Light on Singapore and Beyond

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”—2 Corinthians 4:6 

2023 marks an important milestone for the Bible Society as we celebrate our 200th anniversary of the Bible Mission in Singapore, having started in 1823 with the distribution of 1,000 Chinese New Testament Bibles. For the past 200 years, our Society has worked with our sister Bible Societies and evangelical communities regionally in pioneering the Bible Mission and advancing the Bible cause. Singapore has been the regional hub for Bible translation and printing projects since the 19th century.

Streams of Life (SOL) is a Regional Christian Media Agency that aims to inform, inspire and impact the wider Christian community in Singapore and beyond. SOL Media is a one-stop hub that provides holistic content, regional news, and media services on various digital platforms to its regional partners, such as churches, charities, and other like-minded organisations.

SOL Media is a division of International Bible Experiences (IBEx)—a ministry of The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS). SOL is the official media partner of the bicentennial celebration of the Bible Mission in Singapore commemorated by the Bible Society.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus arrived on this earth, He became a light to everyone around Him. He was not only a spiritual light, offering us a way to have a personal relationship with God, but His light shined brightly everywhere He went.

Especially with a world that is currently filled with so much sin, darkness, uncertainty and the unknown, we have hope, we have a bright light that no darkness can overcome, and we have the sure promises of God and His truth. We as Christians, through Christ’s strength and the Holy Spirit, have the power to shine the light of Christ into other people’s lives, to share with them all that Jesus has done and all that He is doing, and to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We give thanks for the grace of God over the Bible Mission through the years, transforming lives with God’s Word. 2023 is a significant year for the Bible Society as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bible Mission in Singapore, having started in 1823. Rev Dr Robert Morrison pioneered the completion of the New Testament in 1813 and published it the following year. In 1819, the full Bible in Chinese translation was concluded and later published in 1823. With the help of Sir Stamford Raffles, Morrison sent 1,000 Chinese New Testaments to Singapore for distribution among Chinese settlers in 1823, marking the real beginnings of the Bible Mission on the island.

Morrison and Raffles are both men who championed the Bible Mission. In Singapore, the Bible Society’s history is intertwined with that of Singapore’s development. Upon the founding of Singapore, Raffles conceived the establishment of a library within the Singapore Institution. It has since been renamed the National Library, with its history closely tied to that of the Singapore Institution and the National Museum. Singapore institute—presently called Raffles Institute—also served to educate Singaporeans and provided suitable facilities for translating and distributing Bibles, aiding the Bible Movement.


A Shared Heritage: The Histories of the Bible Society and Singapore’s Formation

1837 was the year that the building of the institution was completed and started its operations, but it also was when the Bible Society was officially registered in Singapore. Morrison was also originally slated as the first librarian of the institution’s library. This Institution was to become Raffles Institution and a library, with the collection of books and papers that would spawn into our National Library. In a treasured collection of letters and book of Raffles recently acquired by the National Library was a volume of the Bible in Jawi that was printed in Batavia—now called Jakarta—in 1758.

From 1823 up till the 1870s, Scriptures were usually stored in the Singapore Institution and distributed by volunteers, colporteurs and missionaries. It is heartening to see that by God’s grace, more than a century later, the work of the Bible Movement continued amidst struggles and challenging times.

“After the (Second World) War, the Society partnered with the Singapore Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in organising the historic 1978 Evangelistic Crusade and provided much needed support in planning, logistics and Scriptures for distribution. With the use of computer technology in the 1980s, the Bible House also transformed into a Scripture production and Knowledge Centre printing Scriptures for local and overseas people, and also conducting Bible Literacy courses and public conferences.”—Dr Ernest Chew, Honorary Chairman, National Museum of Singapore

To date, Singapore remains as a hub for Bible Missions, enabling us to continue being a blessing to other nations in sending out God’s Word and hope. The Bible Society continues to work closely with its 147 sister Bible Societies and evangelical communities all over the world to offer help and support in making the Word of God available and tangible to all.

We are proud of our association with The Bible Society of Singapore in such a long and faithful journey, to have been a part of its story, and even more of all they have accomplished in recent decades. You work as an ‘Antioch’ in Asia, whose blessing and fruit is founded on unity and radical love for each person as equally valuable in God’s sight (Acts 11:19-30)”—Paul Williams, Chief Executive, British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS)

Partner with The Bible Society of Singapore

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x