Christians in Muslim countries want Bible in hard copy, not digital — and they're risking their lives to get God's Word

(Wycliffe Associates)

Bible translators are only now finding out that believers in underground churches, mostly in Muslim-dominated countries, prefer to have the old-fashioned hard copy or paper edition of the Scripture rather than the modern digital copy.

Wycliffe Associates' tech guru David Reeves says the requests for paper-edition Bibles caught them by surprise. Before, they had been focusing on apps and digital Bibles, according to Mission News Network.

"They really want to have this [Bible in hard copy]. They can have it in their hands, it doesn't require any power, it doesn't need to be recharged, and they can hide it in various locations," Reeves says.

He says this realisation has presented them with new challenges. Many of the believers who yearned for copies of God's Word live in countries where the Bible is banned.

This means that printing copies of the translated Bible will have to be secretly done inside those countries since transporting them from the outside would be more dangerous.

"They've got to do it themselves quietly back someplace where no one's aware of it," Reeves says.

Wycliffe Associates thus thought of producing a machine compact enough to transport secretly and yet good enough to print thousands of copies of the New Testament.

The project was a huge success.

"A Print On Demand system just kind of blend in and hide. Our brothers and sisters are using them to print freshly published Scripture in places we otherwise wouldn't be able to get them to," Reeves says.

Among these places are countries in the Middle East, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and north-eastern Nigeria.

"Our brothers in the Middle East in the past year printed over 190,000 publications, either books or short booklets, things like that, just in the one year they've had the equipment in their locations," Reeves says.

Nevertheless, printing the Bible is still a dangerous undertaking.

"There are security risks, and our brothers and sisters realise that. They're willing to take those risks and some even paid with their lives in taking those risks. Early this year in the Middle East we had a location where it was discovered and four brothers were killed there at that location. One survived, but we'll replace that system because they wanna keep printing," Reeves says.