“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”— John 1:4-5
As we celebrate Christmas, we want to embrace the true meaning and celebration of the season—the remembrance of Christ’s arrival and our Saviour’s humbling sacrifice. Christmas does not celebrate an event in the past, but the life-changing encounter with God that was made possible at the first Christmas, by God making Himself known through the birth of Christ. And this encounter gives our lives new meaning, new direction, and new purpose.
An encounter with Christ brings true light (John 1:9). His teaching, presence and authority illumines and pushes back the darkness of oppression and self-interest, and invites all people to encounter Him so that they may be set free and experience the eternal life that God has created for us to live. Therefore, The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) hopes to support our sister Bible Societies and the evangelical communities in their initiatives to bring true light to disadvantaged communities, by paving the way for them to receive the gift of life which is Christ.
The church in China has been forged through hardship and challenges, with the number of Christ followers rising exponentially and hungry for the Word of God. As BSS aims to reach out to the Chinese-speaking communities in the region, the society has partnered with the national committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and China Christian Council (CCC) to actively organise charitable work and jointly carry out over 10 social service projects, directly benefiting nearly 20,000 people.
The fundraising projects have helped to supply Bibles and spiritual materials to theological students, preachers and believers, to financially support needy teachers and students in theological colleges or training centres, and also to support a total of 400 poor elementary schools, secondary schools and university students. The funds have also aided in the construction of Christian churches in various provinces and cities, such as the Ningbo International House of Worship Building, where residents can attend services together.
To bless and minister to the blind and disabled, BSS and its partner in China is providing support to their needs so as to allow those with special needs to feel the care, acceptance and love from the Christian community, and to also equip them with skills to earn a living for themselves. Mental health care lines, food banks, and community care centres are also being set up for vulnerable communities.
It is our prayer that as people receive God’s message of life and redemption in a language that speaks to their hearts and experience the demonstration of God’s love, that their lives will be transformed.
The tropical storms that hit Cambodia last year had caused floods and landslides, leaving the country with catastrophic damage. The weeks of heavy rainfall had not only destroyed infrastructure and crops, but hospitals and dams were also severely damaged. In order to provide holistic care to the communities affected by the natural disasters and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BSS has extended help to the poor, children and widows in the flooded areas to provide food during this crisis.
The USD 5,000 that The Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia (EFC) has received from BSS has supplied 200 needy families with relief packages that contain rice, noodles, fish, soy sauce, and face masks.
Chan Seiha, a 10-year-old from Ang Snoul District, Kandal Province, says: “My father is a construction worker and my mother is a farmer. Since the flood last year, my village has been quiet and with many problems like lack of rain for rice farming and the pandemic. Sometimes, my house is short of food because my parents said it is difficult to earn money during this crisis. I used to have enough food to eat, but now it is different. I was very happy to receive the relief package from the teacher because my family can eat for many days.”
Still, the vulnerable need our gifts to help support this important work of bringing God’s Word to them and bringing hope and transformation into their lives.
Through donors’ acts of kind giving globally, over 1.1 million children’s Scriptures have been distributed in Egypt alone. This is the largest number for one nation, in a place where ministry with young people is a top priority. The Bible Society of Egypt (BSE) engages with hundreds of thousands of children each year, through various engagement programmes such as festivals, competitions and quizzes. BSE also produces high-quality Bible-related material for children, with Scripture-based colouring books, children’s books, and drawing and exercise books being distributed at schools and bringing joy to tens of thousands of children.
During lockdown in 2020, a competition booklet was sent out to 120,000 primary school students. Several parents shared that activities like these have encouraged families to read the Bible together. Many of these families have also participated in the act of giving by passing copies of the Bible and quiz booklet to their neighbours, therefore engaging in Jesus’ Great Commission that Daniel spoke of.
Despite living in a time of uncertainty, BSE finds hope in knowing that our God is unchangeable in his faithfulness. BSS continues to provide support to our sister Bible Society in their engagement programmes, as God’s Word touches the hearts and minds of the young in Egypt and as their lives are changed by Jesus.
Sharing the Gift of Life
When we see the star and Christmas lights, remember to let the light of Christ into the darkness of your life, be it sin, struggles or suffering, and then be a star that leads others to the same light of Christ. When we exchange gifts, remember that Jesus gave himself to us on Christmas, and so we continue to encounter him whenever we give of ourselves to others. This Christmas season, it is BSS’ aim to work hand-in-hand with our sister Bible Societies and the evangelical communities as they point the lost directly to the One from whom they can receive the gifts of life and hope. We would like to invite you to partner with us so that we can reach more countries in need of the Word and of practical help.