01 November 2011
Bikers, bloggers and the Bible
Spearheading the national Biblefresh campaign, the Alliance has been encouraging Christians to refresh their Bible passion throughout 2011. Purely and simply - re-discovering the excitement of its words and making it relevant in people's lives - for good times and bad. And with bikers, bloggers and British festival goers all getting involved with us during the year, Rebecca Taylor looks at how the work has been making the Bible fresh for thousands both in the UK and abroad.
Starting just over a year ago, the Biblefresh campaign was launched involving a large movement of 120 churches, agencies, colleges and festivals. Charged with the task of re-igniting people's passion for the Bible, the campaign has provided practical steps for churches on reading, training, translation and experience.
Using this year's 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (KJB) commonly thought of as a time when the Bible was brought to the masses in a new way as inspiration, the range of projects by each Biblefresh organisation has been wide and varied. It has meant that Biblefresh has brought both scripture to life and engaged those who might never have picked up a Bible before. According to Alliance and Bible Society research, Christians - including church leaders - were struggling to read the Bible regularly and were unfamiliar with difficult texts. Something had to be done, so Biblefresh was born.
During the year, Alliance projects like The Viral Bible have helped re-live Bible verse revelation moments for people. The Get A Grip tour of talks on difficult passages this autumn is set to help with tricky texts that need more discovery. The Alliance has also been raising funds for communities in Burkina Faso as part of its Bible Translation. Project meaning those desperate for the Bible in their language will now have one in their own tongue.
Support for making the Bible fresh for people has come from many different forums during the campaign this year. Comedian Frank Skinner and presenter Gyles Brandreth were part of the endorsement of The People's Bible - a campaign run by the Bible Society. Stoke-on-Trent MP Fiona Bruce took part in a Bible 'readathon' at local Methodist churches.
As part of The Bush Theatre's 66 Books performances, writers Kate Mosse, Jeanette Winterson and the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote responses to particular books of the Bible. All in all, the mood in the UK this year really has all been about the Bible.
Frank Skinner said: "People used to have it [the Bible] in their homes and read it, and then they had it in their homes and didn't read it and now they don't have it in their homes [at all]. So it's about due for a revival."
Making the Bible 'viral' and capturing the passion of how verses can literally change lives has been one of the massive successes of The Viral Bible Project.
Donated by Hodder, 180 Bibles were given out at some of this year's festivals as well as 60 Bibles for individual professions, including versions such as the 'Laywers' Bible' and 'Medics' Bible'.
Launching the campaign at Spring Harvest, Bibles have travelled to Glastonbury, Soul Survivor, New Wine, The New Testament Church of God annual meeting, CLAN festival in Scotland, Greenbelt, and the Asian Mission Partnership, reaching some 120,000.
With people highlighting verses that have hit them hard and helped them deal with life then passing them on to the next person in a different location, a 'viral network' has been created. As well as travelling the UK, Viral Bibles also have gone as far afield as Malawi, Rwanda, Canada, The US, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Austria, Croatia and Indonesia. As each Bible has a unique code and people posted their locations and verses, texts have been charted on their journeys, creating
a blur of Google arrows on an interactive Biblefresh map.
The Alliance's Krish Kandiah, who is chair of the Biblefresh Executive Committee, said: "It is inspiring to read which parts of the Bible had encouraged, challenged and provoked people in their Christian faith. Our hope is that as Christians grow in confidence in knowing the Bible they will be more willing to pass it on to others."
A new challenge
The Viral Bible Challenge (VBC), a new phase of the Viral Bible Project, will be launching this month. VBC will help people who may have unused Bibles in their houses start conversations about inspirational verses with their non-Christian friends.
Based on the 'Geocache' phenomenon where objects are 'tracked' the VBC will create an interactive map through users posting online locations of where they have placed objects, in this case a Bible. Users can download an insert to stick in the front of their book, register online to create a viral network and compete to get the most entries in their Viral Bible.
When it came to making the Bible not only fresh and relevant but also available to those who historically have had no access, the Alliance Bible Translation Project has meant people were also able to reach out globally through its fundraising appeal. The Bible Translation Project has been raising money for Bibles to be translated into Bissa Lebir and Bissa Barka, the languages of the one million Bissa people in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is one of the world's poorest countries and with the Bissa only having the New Testament in Lebir, the Bible Society has been working to translate the Old Testament into the same language with Wycliffe Burkina Faso taking on translating text into Barka.
Bibles already translated are making a huge difference and with more languages on the way, communities will have a way of understanding scripture without barriers. Philomene Ouedraogo Compaore, 62, a farmer in Niaogho who now has a Bible in her own language says: "What I have learned from the Bible has been incredible, if you haven't got a Bible you don't know what's wrong and what's not. Without the Bible, life is dark. Before, there were things in my life that I shouldn't have been doing…but the Bible has shown me the right way to go. It's changed my life."