From Belarus and Portugal to Sri Lanka and Suriname, Bible Societies are facing financial collapse in countries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. But more than $4.1 million has been given to them through a global Solidarity Fund, which has helped to provide finances for staff salaries, Bible translations, and continued work on essential outreach projects.
The donations have been given by fellow Bible Societies in countries with greater financial stability, gathered up by umbrella organisation United Bible Societies. The fund provides direct financial support, as well as Bibles for free distribution.
The Solidarity Fund was established late last year in response to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, and aims to raise a total of US$6.5m (AU$8.3m).
Close to two thirds of Bible Societies around the world face significant survival challenges, brought on by the economic fallout of the pandemic. About 20 per cent are at risk of immediate closure.
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In Cameroon, the support has been particularly appreciated as it undertakes five Bible translation projects, works in trauma healing and literacy, and provides support for victims of sexual exploitation.
Director General of the Cameroon Bible Society Luc Gnowa said COVID-19’s impact had been devastating for the organisation which already had been dealing with attacks from Boko Haram, as well as experiencing a social crisis bordering on civil war.
“Conscious of this state of vulnerability, I wondered what would become of us if the devastation of COVID-19 gained ground at home and elsewhere,” he said. “An intense fear took hold of me despite the great courage that has often characterised me.”
The funds will support the Cameroon Bible Society to continue translation work, as well as to pay salaries and taxes. This injection of funding follows significant falls in fundraising and sales income.
“We are very surprised and happy to know that we are among the happy beneficiaries of this grace from the UBS Fellowship,” said Gnowa.
“Our voice rose to the Lord to express our gratitude to Him, and then to the many donors who … were willing to share their love with us.”