Seventh-day Adventists in Australia and New Zealand are responding to the increasing demand for Bibles in the Pacific Islands by developing a new subsidization program to provide new Church members with reasonably priced Bibles and hymnals.
“We’re keen to make Bibles, in particular, available to those coming into the Church,” says Pastor Brad Kemp, a Church leader in Papua New Guinea (PNG). “In Papua New Guinea right now it’s like it was in Reformation times when the Bible was locked up. When it became available, people were delighted to read it.”
The rising demand for Bibles in the Pacific Island region is due, in part, to the success of satellite evangelism in the islands. It is expected that up to 70,000 Bible and hymnal sets will be needed over the next two years.
Dr. Alex Currie, assistant to the Adventist Church president in the South Pacific region, reports that during the past five years the Church has supplied 16,000 Bibles to Pacific islands. Most have been sent to new members in PNG and the Solomon Islands.
“The union missions placed Bibles as a priority project for the division’s strategic plan,” Currie says. “We continue to be pressed strongly by the Papua New Guinea and Western Pacific Union Missions.”
The proposal is for members in Australia and New Zealand to subsidize the cost of the Bibles and hymnals and for members in the islands to buy them as a gift for new members, or for new members to buy them at a reduced price. “Even then these people will be paying several days wages to obtain God’s Word,” says Pastor Ray Eaton, president of the Adventist Church in the Eastern Solomon Islands region.
Adventist publisher Signs Publishing Company has bought Bibles and is printing hymnals at minimal margins to, primarily, cover expenses. Some 5,000 Bibles and 3,000 hymnals have been shipped to PNG, ready for “Jesus 2000,” an upcoming evangelistic initiative. Another 25,000 Bibles are on order.