William Carey once said ‘to know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.’ These words are meaningful to us at the Bible Society, particularly as our nation celebrates its Jubilee. We are prompted to think of new beginnings associated with Biblical Jubilee and to discover afresh the will of God for the Bible Society.
Whilst many do associate us with the ‘open Bible’ – the ministry of the Word, perhaps it is the ‘open map’ – the missionary aspect of our work, that is less thought of when the Bible Society comes to mind. Yet, it was a mission-focused vision that began the Bible Society’s work in 1804. In fact, missionaries like William Carey worked closely with the Bible Society to make the Word of God known to all people.
The Bible Mission
This mission is one that God has prospered over the last 210 years. It is now a global effort carried out in over 200 countries and territories, through 147 Societies that come under the banner of United Bible Societies (UBS). The scope of the mission has also expanded: beginning with functions like translation, publishing and distribution that put the Bible in people’s hands, our mission today includes literacy, engagement and advocacy components, which put the Bible in people’s hearts. Through these six pillars of the Bible mission, we hope to see lives transformed by the Word.
These pillars will be fleshed out in the later issues of Word@Work this year, so be sure to pick up a copy every quarter! In this issue, we look at the underlying values of the mission as a whole: it is centred on the Word, driven by people, and oriented to our community.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching… that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
Naturally, God’s Word lies at the centre of the Bible mission, because His Word should be at the centre of our lives. Through it, God speaks, reveals Himself and guides us to do His work. There is no doubt that all people should have the opportunity to read or hear the Scriptures and learn its precious truths. Sadly, many are unable to for various reasons, and so our task is to ensure that God’s Word reaches these people.
This principle shapes all the work we do at the Society. Our programmes, trips and fundraising efforts place the Bible front and centre, emphasising the Word’s importance in the world today.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food… I was naked and you clothed me… Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:35-36, 40 (ESV)
Whilst the Word of God is the focus of the Bible Society, the mission work is done through people and for people. We are driven not just by the importance of the Bible, but also by the needs of the people we serve, whose hearts will be changed by the Scriptures.
We pray for more opportunities to touch people’s lives with the Word through our programmes, especially as we begin to engage the public square through the ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity, and involve ourselves with major humanitarian relief projects.
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:5 (ESV)
As part of the UBS fellowship, our local Bible Society’s mission is aligned with the needs of the Singaporean community, even as we are involved in regional Bible mission work. Therefore, we do our utmost to partner with and support the local Church, as well as take on significant community projects.
This is an exceptional year for Singapore, and we are glad to be doing our part to commemorate SG50. In collaboration with Jubilee Day of Prayer 2015, the Bible Society will be printing 60,000 special edition SG50 Jubilee Bibles for the event to encourage the spread of God’s Word to pre-believers. This is a huge undertaking, but one absolutely worth doing because of its impact on our community.
Missionaries for the Bible
This Word-centric, people-driven, community-oriented mission of the Bible Society is fulfilled by Bible missionaries around the world. Though most of these individuals may not be sent out as missionaries in the most traditional sense, they have responded to the call of the Bible Mission in their local societies.