Despite Challenges to Christianity, Bible Translation Thrives

51 Bible Translations Launched Last Year Despite Ebola and Boko Haram

It has been said that Christianity thrives under persecution and hardship. If the past year's Bible translation efforts are any evidence, then the saying seems to hold true.

In 2014, more than 1 billion people gained the ability to access the Bible for the first time thanks to translation projects supported by American Bible Society and Bible Societies around the world. According to the United Bible Society's 2014 Global Scripture Access Report, Bible Societies helped complete translations in 51 languages spoken by more than 1.3 billion people—including 1.2 billion Chinese speakers and 146 million speakers of other languages.

The translations are all the more remarkable given the escalated level of persecution against Christians during the past year. In Nigeria, where the militant Islamic group Boko Haram continued to escalate its deadly attacks on Christians, the Nigerian Bible Society launched four new Bible translations. All four were first-time translations, potentially giving 2.1 million Nigerians first-time access to the full Bible in their heart language. One of them, the Bura Bible, was completed and launched in December, despite a Boko Haram bomb attack on the translation office in September.

The people of Liberia also faced enormous difficulties last year, losing more individuals to Ebola than any other affected country. In spite of this, the Bible Society of Liberia launched two complete, first-time Bible translations. The Bible in Kpelle and Southern Kisi, spoken by nearly 1 million people, arrived at a time when Liberians needed God's Word in their language more than ever before.

"Stories in nations such as Nigeria and Liberia are inspiring," said Marco Herrera, managing director of international ministries of American Bible Society. "The dedication of Bible translators is matched only by the hunger of these local people for the Word of God."

Despite a successful year for Bible translation in 2014, the need remains great. Of the world's 6,901 languages actively used as first languages, only 531 have a complete Bible translation. Bible translation is currently underway in an additional 2,195 languages but some 1,859 remain untouched.

About American Bible Society:

Since 1816, American Bible Society has worked to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s first and most enduring ministries, today's American Bible Society provides resources across a variety of platforms enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit