God’s word offers hope, light and life to people of all cultures, languages and nations. But what will it take to give the whole world access to God’s word? What about the people who have access but who have not had the opportunity to witness the life-changing power of the word?
Jesus provided the strategy more than two thousand years ago. As he prayed for the disciples and for future generations of believers, he prayed that they would be of one heart and one mind, in unity, so that the world would believe the good news (John 17).
So what will it take? It will take God’s people, his Church, in this generation, coming together, serving alongside each other, bringing their abilities, gifts and resources, so the world will know him and grow in him through his word. This is the hope of the Forum of Bible Agencies International (the Forum) as it works in partnership with churches around the world.
The goal is to work together to maximize worldwide access and impact of God’s Word. This is the vision that unites twenty-five leading Bible agencies around the world in a mutual work. This goal is coupled with the belief that the speed and scope of accomplishing this vision will be significantly increased through collaboration and cooperation.
What Does the Forum Do?
As an alliance of Bible agencies, the Forum promotes and pursues collaboration by:
- Strengthening inter-agency understanding and relationships
- Undertaking strategic global initiatives
- Advocating the centrality of God’s Word in life and mission
- Fostering professional excellence of its members through training
- Providing support for the development of regional and national forums
This has resulted in partnership and strategic involvement throughout member agencies. Perhaps most notable is the development of a translation development group. Chaired by Freddie Boswell of Wycliffe International, this group has been responsible for setting standards for all member agency translation consultants as well as developing a database of ongoing and needed translation work. The result has been coordination and collaboration across member agencies which has led to a decreased duplication of efforts and an increase in skill and knowledge. There is also a long-term aim of more efficient and timely provision of new Bible translations.
Forum members have embarked on coordinated work in the
areas of distribution, engagement and advocacy.
Beyond the translation group, Forum members have embarked on coordinated work in the areas of distribution, engagement and advocacy. Special areas of focus include Bible distribution in the areas of the world heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, an online catalogue of available scriptures and the development of six regional and twenty-one national forums, furthering the spirit of unity worldwide.
Roberto Laver, executive director of the Forum, recently shared thoughts on the Forum’s work:
“Today, there are millions of people without scripture in their heart language; millions of others without access to existing scriptures and many more for whom the Bible has no relevancy or credibility. The Forum represents the commitment and efforts of twenty-five ministries, from varied expressions of Christian faith, to work together in addressing these realities and needs. As anyone who knows anything about partnership and collaboration, this is not an easy challenge. The costs may appear high but the benefits to the kingdom are immense. The Forum has served (and continues to serve) as a platform and catalyst for stronger relationships, countless partnerships and changes in individual ministries’ emphasis and approaches (i.e., audio-visual methods, scripture use, outcome-based ministry). The Forum is taking steps to intensify cooperation through its comprehensive scripture database development, formulation of a common advocacy strategy, greater focus on regional and national collaboration and development of new peer groups. We continue to be challenged by John Mott’s words over sixty years ago when he told the then-Bible Societies that ‘in the face of the corroding influences of Western civilization, the hour has struck for cooperation, not only at our headquarters, but right down the line. We should only impoverish ourselves by standing alone…this is a day of God’s visitation not only for our sins, but visitation by God in that he is beckoning on us and drawing us closer in this cooperation.’”
According to Douglas Birdsall, executive chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization,
“The Forum of Bible Agencies International sets a standard of excellence as a strategic partnership in the enterprise of world missions. The Forum is comprised of many well-established organizations that could easily ‘go it alone.’ Yet they have chosen to partner together. As a result, each organization is stronger, and the collective work of Bible translation, publication and distribution is enhanced and accelerated to serve the Church around the world.”
More information about the Forum of Bible Agencies International and its member agencies can be found online at www.forum-intl.net.