For the third year running, Bible Societies have distributed more than 400 million Scripture items around the world – including more than 34 million Bibles. That’s enough for more than 5% of the world’s population. And since the beginning of the decade, the United Bible Societies fellowship (UBS) has distributed enough Scripture material for two out of every five people on the planet.
The distribution of nonprint Bibles such as digital downloads, CDs, Scripture texts and DVDs has more than doubled across the world in 2016, driven by the growing demand for Bibles on our phones and devices. The trend mirrors growing internet use around the world. Around 45% of the world’s population now have access to the internet, and by 2020 seven out of every 10 people on the planet will own a smartphone. We spend more time on our phones than any other media.Meanwhile, the global Digital Bible Library now has Scripture in 1,134 languages, which reach a total audience of more than five billion people.
At the end of 2016, Bible Society of Brazil reached the milestone of 150 million Bibles and New Testaments produced at its Bible Press since 1995. In Bangladesh, where nine out of 10 people are Muslim, the Bible Society team distributed more than eight times as many New Testaments as in the previous year. Altogether they provided 105,081 New Testaments through book fairs, distribution among rural believers and an initiative to reach mothers and families. The Palestinian Bible Society distributed five times as many New Testaments in 2016, compared to 2015. This was against a backdrop of violent outbursts between Israelis and Palestinians throughout the year, which raised tension and volatility in the region. And during a historic year for Cuba, when former ruler Fidel Castro died and Barack Obama, then President of the United States, made an unprecedented visit to the country, Scripture distribution soared. The number of Bibles and Scripture portions made available by the Cuba Bible Commission more than doubled, with more than 350,000 full Bibles provided in the nation. The distribution effort was part of the ‘One million Bibles for Cuba’ campaign, which was launched in 2013 and is due to run until the end of next year.