Scripture Distribution Report: More than 166 million Bible texts distributed post-COVID in 2022 - United Bible Societies

Worldwide Bible distribution reached 166.4 million Bible texts. This shows the continuous interest in the transforming power of the Bible narrative and the extraordinary commitment of Bible Societies to provide the hope of God’s Word in a world still in crisis.

The distribution figures revealed that 7 million New Testaments were distributed globally in 2022, 40% more than in 2021. The majority of the New Testaments were distributed throughout the Global South: 5 million in Asia, followed by Central and South America and Africa which accounted for 1.3 million of distributed New Testaments.

Meanwhile, the number of Bible downloads followed an ascending trend. In 2022, 28% of Bibles provided were internet downloads, compared to only 21% in 2021. Some regions show a greater demand for Scripture downloads than others, with Central and South America leading the way with over 4.2 million Bible downloads, 42% of the overall 10 million Bible downloads. In Europe, 2 out of 3 Bibles provided were downloaded, compared to just 2 in 25 in Oceania.

In total, 166.4 million Scripture items were provided in 2022. Dirk Gevers, UBS Secretary General, said, “Bible distribution is deeply ingrained in the core of our Fellowship, just as translation is. Ensuring that every individual holds a Bible is intricately tied to efficient distribution. Our supply chains span the entire globe, diligently operating to fulfil this mission. By distributing Bibles, we empower individuals and communities, fostering spiritual growth, and promoting the values of generosity, compassion, and unity which tie our Fellowship together.”

The figures are compiled from annual Scripture distribution numbers reported by Bible Societies around the world and include local distribution and exports of Scripture material, as well as internet downloads. The United Bible Societies Fellowship continues to be one of the largest translators and distributors of Scripture in the world; around 70% of the world’s full Bible translations have been provided by Bible Societies.

The Power of the Fellowship

After enduring two years of significant disruption to their distribution services, resulting in a direct impact on their income, Bible Societies across the globe are steadfastly working towards regaining their momentum. The Solidarity Fund, which was set up during the pandemic to provide vital support to the Bible Societies most affected by the pandemic, continued to play a vital role in this post-pandemic transition period, followed by the war in Ukraine which impacted the economic activities worldwide.

Remarkable distribution efforts in 2022 include:

  • Bible Society of Ukraine distributed over half a million Scriptures; another quarter million Bibles were distributed to Ukrainian refugees in Europe by other Bible Societies;
  • China Partnership saw an increased sale of local Bibles from 1.2 million to 1.8 million;
  • Cambodia doubled its Bible (from 12,865 to 25,694) and Portions (from 19,896 to 36,386) distribution and an enormous increase in New Testament distribution from 1,187 to 202,171;
  • Distribution of the New Testament in Mongolia also recorded one of the highest levels in recent years;
  • The Dominican Republic increased the distribution of Bibles by 83% from 6,941 to 12,735 and New Testaments by 131% from 1.4 million to 3.3 million;
  • England & Wales increased their distribution in all the segments – Bibles (19%), New Testaments (454%), Portions/Selections (601%), All Local Scriptures (337%) Internet Downloads (832%). An overall increase of 649%;
  • For the first time in a decade, Greece has crossed the distribution of Bibles over 10,000 Scriptures and has reached the 12,000 mark in 2022.

Countries like Indonesia and Kenya saw a dip in distribution in 2021 but managed to recover in 2022. Indonesia distributed more Testaments than in previous years – 644,658, compared to 28,400 in 2020 and 16,000 in 2021.

2022 was also an effective year for the distribution of Scriptures in the diaspora communities. Iran Bible Society in Diaspora distributed 75,600 Testaments after it could not distribute any Scriptures in 2021, while in 2020, it managed to distribute only 9,600.

Myanmar and Pakistan recovered to the pre-pandemic distribution levels after they saw a drop in 2021.

The global economic uncertainties continue to affect Bible distribution. Rising costs, shipping delays and stock shortages meant that distribution was still below pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, Bible Societies are still affected by ongoing supply chain challenges in 2022.

However, the first signs of recovery are visible as both the distribution of the printed Bible texts and the number of downloads increased compared with the previous year.

Top 10 Bible Distributors

Similarly to the previous year, nearly two-thirds (62%) of all Bibles distributed in 2022 were provided by Bible Societies in 10 countries. Brazil tops the list of Bible distributors, with 4.8 million Bibles. It is followed by the USA (2.6 million Bibles), India (2.5 million Bibles), Nigeria (2 million Bibles) and China (1.8 million Bibles).

Among the new arrivals in the top ten distributors is Kenya which successfully distributed more than 1 million Bibles in 2022.

After a plateau due to COVID, China is again among the world’s top five Bible distributors with 1.8 million Bibles distributed in 2022.

Light in the Darkness: Supporting Christians with Bibles in War-Torn Areas

With the onset of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, the global community began to grasp the immense challenges faced by those practising Christianity in such circumstances. However, amidst the adversities, the distribution of Bibles surged in these affected regions and among the Ukrainian refugees scattered around the world.

Ukraine witnessed the distribution of over half a million Scripture items, including 109,965 complete Bibles, 133,008 New Testaments, 99,030 children’s Bibles, and 261,480 Bible portions. Around 20 Bibles Societies across Europe distributed another 220,000 scriptures to Ukrainian refugees. Despite the hardships, the commitment to providing the Scriptures persisted, acknowledging the importance of faith amid the turmoil.

“The war is still going on and may last longer,” said Rostyslav Stasyuk of the Bible Society of Ukraine. “There are so many more people who still need to hear His voice through the Bible. To receive comfort and healing, to remain sane and humane and, ultimately, to receive Salvation. It is our prayer that He continues empowering His Church here, His servants, that He gives resources, strength and protection so that His Word is spread among as many people as possible in the months to come.”

Bibles for Migrant and Diasporic Communities

During the FIFA World Cup held in November and December 2022 in Qatar, the Gulf Bible Society partnered with various churches in Doha to distribute 10,500 New Testaments in Hindi, Malayalam, Nepali, Telugu, Sinhala, Tamil, and Tagalog, as well as Gospels in other languages. This collaborative effort aimed to provide spiritual support and encouragement to numerous migrant workers who worked tirelessly, often in very insecure contexts, to prepare the country for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, as well as to football fans visiting the region for the event.

Amidst the World Cup finals that commenced on November 20, 2022, a total of 14 different languages were represented. Copies of John’s Gospel and the New Testament were gifted to the migrant workers, predominantly from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines, who had worked through harsh working conditions, including the scorching heat while constructing stadiums and other infrastructure.

A growing number of these migrant workers, though, are rediscovering hope by encountering Jesus in the Scriptures and churches in the Gulf region are flourishing.

 “This is My Bible”: Children around the World Receive the Word of God

In 2022, the Bible Society of Kenya made a powerful impact, touching the lives of over 7,500 young ones by providing them with their very own Bible. The distribution took place across 54 schools, scattered throughout seven counties. Most children came from low-income families where guardians barely afford 1$ per day.

“Having this Bible in my hands is such a big blessing. I have never owned one and this will be a great tool for me as l study, especially Christian Religious Education here in school,” said Felicia Nanjala, Grade 6, Heshima Primary School.

Robert Mwaniki, C.R.E. Teacher, at Murunyu Secondary School, shared his appreciation: “Students have been lacking Bibles in this school because parents are not economically stable, so students have been sharing Bibles. We thank BS Kenya for these gifts recommended by the Kenya Institute of Education. Christian Religious Education has been made easier!”

In Asia, the Bible Society in Vietnam generously distributed a total of 3,750 Bibles to children and youth between the ages of 11 and 18 who reside in remote areas or face personal financial constraints. Among these, 1,875 Bibles were the Vietnamese version from 1925, while the remaining 1,875 were the Revised Vietnamese version.

Despite growing up in Christian families, many of these young individuals lacked personal Bibles, hindering their personal devotion, study, and participation in church activities. By distributing these Bibles, the Bible Society in Vietnam aimed to meet their spiritual needs and support their engagement in faith-related activities.

The Bible Society of Nicaragua aimed to provide support, care, and spiritual guidance to children and families attending the hospital, particularly those receiving cancer treatment. Through training sessions, Bible distributions, devotionals, and other activities, the program sought to bring comfort, hope, and faith to those facing difficult circumstances.

As part of the program, 267 children and their accompanying parents received medical assistance and their parents were given a free Bible. Through this initiative, the children were encouraged to explore their faith by praying, reading the Bible, and sharing stories about characters of faith.

To facilitate the delivery of devotionals and Bible studies to the children, parents, and medical personnel, thirty pastors and volunteers received free Bibles. As part of the outreach activities, a total of 10,777 children and parents attending the outpatient area received a free portion of the Bible.

Through these endeavours, the Bible Societies in Kenya, Vietnam, and Nicaragua demonstrated their commitment to sharing the Word of God and making a positive impact in the lives of children and families.

Demand for Digital in Africa

The demand for digital Bibles in Africa is on the rise, while there are still distribution challenges for print Bibles. In 2022, the number of Bible downloads in Africa more than doubled from just over 1 million to over 2 million.

YouVersion, the popular Bible app, plays a crucial role in making Bible Society Scriptures available online. It accounts for 52% of the reported 5.3 million against the overall 10.0 million digital Bible downloads, according to the data we obtained.

According to YouVersion’s statistics for 2022, Spanish emerged as the most popular language for Bible downloads, with 1.4 million downloads, followed by English with 1 million downloads. The geographical regions such as Africa, Central and South America, and Europe witnessed an increase in Bible downloads in 2022.

Bible Societies also reported 10 million Bible downloads from their own online platforms, representing 28% of the overall Bible distribution. And millions of people around the world are reading the Bible online and deepening their knowledge through Bible Society reading plans, study materials, quizzes and other digital engagement activities.

Light in the Amazon – The Bible for the “Ribeirinhos” (Families on the riverside)

The Bible Society of Brazil marked a significant milestone as it commemorated the 60th anniversary of the renowned “Light in the Amazon” program. This momentous occasion was highlighted by the distribution of nearly 22,000 complete Bibles, accompanied by an additional 23,300 portions of the Bible. Moreover, the program extended its support beyond spiritual nourishment, providing essential resources to those in need.

To facilitate the smooth operation of the program, a commendable team of 1,498 volunteers underwent comprehensive training in three sessions and participated in 66 informative lectures. Their dedication and commitment were instrumental in the success of the program.

Recognizing the diverse needs of the participants, medical assistance was extended to almost 18,000 individuals. Through this support, the Bible Society of Brazil aimed to provide holistic care and address both the physical and spiritual well-being of the community.

Making Sign Language Scriptures Available Online

When Anne, a Deaf mother of two, became a Christian, her fears of not understanding the Bible were gone. After watching Bible Story videos introduced by her husband, she said: “I can understand very well. I knew some friends who are deaf, and I shared the videos with them. It can be done easily as the videos are posted on the internet. We can just copy and send the link to the video to our friends. They love the videos too. I hope there will be more videos coming in the future.” The provision of sign language Scripture is life-changing for Christians like Anne and her husband, who live in Vietnam.

It is a position shared by millions of Deaf people around the world. For them, only the expressive, visual nature of sign language truly speaks to their hearts. That’s why Bible Societies in 2022 continued to scale up efforts to provide God’s Word in sign languages. Only around 81 of the world’s 400 sign languages have at least some Scripture.

The Bible Societies in Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ireland, North Macedonia, Paraguay, Russia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uruguay, Congo, and Vietnam now all have sign language Scripture videos on YouTube. Colombian Bible Society uses another platform called Deaf.Bible, where passages can be searched by the book and downloaded.

CONTACT

UBS Communications
PH: +44 7389 882143
E: communications@biblesocieties.org