The Urgency of Bible Translation in a Coronavirus World

Neither the world's first catastrophe nor its last, the COVID-19 crisis has become the first global event since the Second World War to deliver far-reaching and devastating effects on every aspect of society across the planet. From restaurant owners to dishwashers, from taxpayers to rulers, from the sickest victims and their bereaved families to their heroic caretakers, no one has escaped its reach, and every one of us has felt its impact, some more deeply than others.

While other eras have known the world-wide flood, Bubonic Plague, Spanish flu, world wars, and other life-altering catastrophes, each one of these events has left a distinctive mark on its generation and reminds us that God, the Creator of everything, has and will continue to use even the disasters and tragedies of the fallen world to lead His people to a better knowledge of His plan for mankind. Even now, He is using a global pandemic to reveal His goodness and rescue the lost.

While the anxieties and effects of this crisis remain fresh on our hearts and minds, let us consider some of the valuable lessons that should remain with us as we move through and beyond it.

First, we have learned the importance of community after experiencing the isolation of social distancing for weeks and even months without seeing, working, and worshipping with others in person. We have discovered a new-found appreciation for the strength that gathering together contributes to our mission of reaching unbelievers with the gospel. We are not meant to work alone, and we need each other to accomplish the most important of goals, including that of ensuring that the unreached have access to the communicable, powerful Word of God in their language.

Second, we have recognized the importance of those who give of themselves and demonstrate a willingness to face great danger and incredible sacrifice to meet the needs of others. Doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and first responders have worked tirelessly to meet the health needs of those infected by this highly contagious virus. Faithful church members, missionaries, and even Bible translators have purposed to meet the spiritual needs of a lost and dying world, finding new ways to do so while social distancing and abiding by traveling and gathering restrictions. In times of need, these acts of selfless sacrifice radically reflect God's character and remind us to give of ourselves while pressing on towards our higher calling.

Third, one of the hardest lessons, yet the greatest blessing from this crisis, has occurred as we have identified the idols that have taken Christ's rightful place in our hearts. By toppling those idols, God has given everyone, including believers, the opportunity to recognize that Christ is the only one who ultimately provides peace and wisdom during times of trouble. An invisible and unfamiliar virus has exposed the helplessness of the idols of prosperity, power, medical science, and government, and as the idols fall from their places in our hearts, we are left with an emptiness and hunger for truth that only God can satisfy and only a relationship with Him can remedy. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "For a great and effective door has opened to me" (1 Cor. 16:9). Such hunger creates an unusual opportunity for us to witness to those who are searching in the wake of this crisis.

Often tragedies remind us of what truly matters—worshiping and serving our great God and Savior by giving Him the attention and fellowship for which He created and redeemed us. God lovingly commands our attention by revealing the powerlessness of the substitutes that we have allowed to take His place in our nation, churches, and even our hearts. God longs for people to find their satisfaction in Him. While we mourn our losses caused by this virus, we should also express gratitude to our Lord for quieting the noise of industry, entertainment, riches, boasting, etc., so that we hear His caring, redeeming voice, and realize what is truly essential. COVID-19 has reminded us that our Creator is our Healer, our Savior, and our Restorer.

Finally, we have renewed our urgency to reach the lost and lead them to a saving relationship with our Savior by providing them with the Word of God. As we move towards the events of the end times, COVID-19 may be one of the last warnings and opportunities before the predicted pre-tribulation "pestilences, wars, earthquakes, etc." occur. The world needs to hear God so they can know Him, repent before Him, trust Him, love Him, and exalt Him. Furthermore, the generation that lives through the Great Tribulation will need the Scriptures. May we continue to join with the team at BI to put Bibles in the hands of those who are waiting. COVID-19 only increases the urgency to communicate the knowledge of God—the only reliable source of hope—through the Scriptures to those who have not heard its Good News. The world needs Bibles, and Bibles International, more than ever before.

Is the Holy Spirit generating in you a hunger for the only trustworthy God? For Truth? You and I are part of His planned team to supply that Truth.

As God uses the coronavirus to remind us that we are closer to end time events than we may have realized, the Spirit of Truth admonishes us "to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding…" in taking the Word of God to those who still wait.