Bible Famine in Africa: Can you imagine trying to grow spiritually without a Bible?

630 million Christians are in Africa today, over twice as many as in North America. This vibrant Church is facing a discipleship crisis.


Across the world
– and particularly across Africa – millions of people have given their lives to Jesus but do not have access to a Bible. Can you imagine trying to grow spiritually
without a Bible? n some areas, even your pastor may not have a full Bible.

The statistics are sobering. According to our calculations, using the most optimistic figures, 15 million Bibles and Bible portions are distributed in Africa every year.

Oasis International an organization working in Africa now says the continent faced the largest Bible famine in world history, and that as many as 550 million Christians in Africa were without a Bible.

Oasis International, focuses on the publishing and distribution of Bibles and Christian content by African authors, called this “the hidden Bible crisis”.

Company President Dr Matthew Elliott said that, while many believers are aware of the need for Bible translation and donate generously to the cause, little is being done to address the need for a resilient sales and distribution network.

“While we should never neglect Bible translation, strengthening the distribution of existing Bibles in English, French, and Portuguese has more potential to address the current Bible shortage in the short and medium term.

“Statistics by the world’s most popular Bible app show, for example, that 98,9% of reading hours in Nigeria are spent on English content, even though the app carries the Bible in 18 of the most popular Nigerian languages. Our own research bears this out, with 93% of rural Nigerians polled saying they preferred to read the Bible in English for their personal devotions,” Dr Elliott said.

Numbers from The World Christian Encyclopedia show that Africa received only 7,1% of the Bibles printed in the last 20 years, despite representing 26,5% of the global Christian population. In contrast, North America received 27,7% of Bibles, although it accounted for only 11,6% of Christians globally.

Oasis said it was partnering with local bookstores, ministries, and denominations to create a distribution infrastructure that would serve Africa sustainably. It said the way to address the Bible shortage was to empower local entrepreneurs and build scale. Merely donating Bibles put local bookstores out of business, destroyed existing distribution channels, and served to worsen the crisis.

Currently, 1 in 4 Christians live in Africa. It is expected that, by 2060, 40% of the world’s Christians will be African.

This is the situation of Christianity in Africa. There are  millions of people in Africa, speaking hundreds of heart languages that do not yet have a copy of the Bible. Every last person needs a copy of the Bible in a language they can understand. But according to Wycliffe statistics, the Bible has already been translated for the reading language of as many as 90% of Africans. While we should not rest until this number has reached 100%, there needs to be balance in our approach to how we resource Bible ministry.



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