by Julia Hall
“I’ve decided that everyone suffers.” This is what my friend of over 30 years said to me one day as we walked around the local lake, and she was right. Everyone is going through something, or will in the future, and even for a Christian with hope in Jesus, the road can be a tough one. What about for the one who doesn’t have hope? It’s a desperate situation.
Yes, because of COVID-19, the world is in as desperate a situation as we have ever seen in our lifetimes. “What is God doing?” we ask. While we don’t know all that he is doing, we know one thing we can see: People are searching for God. Just take a look at the YouVersion Bible App.
YouVersion makes the Bible available in 1,400 languages and an app available in 62 that has been downloaded more than 425 million times and is appropriate for smartphones, tablets, and online at Bible.com. Here’s what Jeff Moore, director of global impact for YouVersion, said about the month of April 2020 alone:
“There’s no question that April 2020 was by far the largest month of Bible engagement we’ve ever seen in almost every category we measure. Take the number of Bible-reading plans [one plan covers one book of the Bible] that were completed, for example. In April 2020, 40 percent more plans were completed than in the same month the previous year, and that number represents a 20 percent increase on the previous record month! This statistic, in particular, is important because it demonstrates repeated usage of the app in a consistent, intentional manner. It takes commitment to come back to the app for days in a row to complete a daily Bible plan! We’re thrilled to see all that users are doing in the YouVersion Bible App, because it paints a picture of God’s people growing in intimacy with him through his Word!”
Moore adds that in Italy, particularly hard-hit by COVID-19, one moment-in-time snapshot showed a 30 percent increase in traffic over the same time last year.
Not only is this exciting, but TWR and our close ministry partner Thru the Bible (TTB) have been able to join in a unique partnership with YouVersion to provide the teaching of Dr. J. Vernon McGee to further disciple YouVersion app users. Moore comments on the partnership:
“We are grateful for the close partnership we have with the ministry of Thru the Bible. In recent years, they have provided more than 400 Bible-reading plans in 12 different languages, with more to come, to help people experience the life-transforming power of God’s Word. In that time, we’ve been amazed to see over 170,000 plans completed.
“Now, we find ourselves in a unique time in history where people across the globe are dealing with the impact of COVID-19. In the middle of it all, they are turning to the Bible at a rate we’ve never seen before. Because of the deep relationship between Thru the Bible and TWR, they were able to move quickly to release new Bible-reading plans in Italian, Spanish, and Farsi, bringing hope and peace to people facing the worst of coronavirus. We’re incredibly grateful to the teams at Thru the Bible and TWR for all their work and commitment to bring the light of the gospel to the whole world.”
In a collaborative effort, the three organizations came together to fast-track material for Italy and Spain as the countries were being overrun by COVID-19. Lucas da Silva is TWR’s director of Southern European Ministry:
“We have been working with our Italian national partner, Centro di Radiodiffusione Cristiana (CRC), and our Spanish national partner, Canal de Vida, to put Italian and European Spanish Thru the Bible on YouVersion from six books of the Bible (John, Philippians, Ephesians, 1 Peter, Psalms and Romans). The Italian TTB is called Il Libro Più Letto (The Most Read Book) and Spanish TTB is called La Fuente de la Vida (The Fountain of Life). The content itself is the regular teaching blocks for Il Libro Più Letto and La Fuente de la Vida. CRC and Canal de Vida have also provided texts in their languages informing YouVersion users that these programs contain truth and provide hope in the midst of the coronavirus.”
Not only is God drawing more people to his Word around the world, but he also is bringing together his people to do it. One final comment by TWR’s Thru the Bible international liaison, Harry Bettig, sums up the partnership:
“It has been an interesting experience to help TTB provide Italian and European Spanish Bible-teaching programs on the YouVersion platform. At least a dozen individuals, including volunteers, were involved in some part of this project. We are also looking at Greek, Romanian, Croatian, Bulgarian, and Dutch to be added in six to nine months with a five-minute text and audio version of TTB. To see three organizations working together toward a common goal is encouraging.”
None of these ministries is able to do what it does without the prayer and financial support of many generous givers. If you support one of these ministries in some way, you are a part of speaking hope to the world at a crucial time in our history. Thank you!