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August 2, 2021

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Secretly printing the Bible – News Release

3 min read

Print On Demand, “One of the Boldest Initiatives in the History of Bible Translation” Rapidly Accelerating Scripture Distribution

(Orlando, Florida, USA)—Wycliffe Associates, an international organization involving people in the advancement of Bible translation, is helping rapidly accelerate the distribution of newly translated portions of the Scriptures for those without the Bible in their language, including places where having a Bible is dangerous.

By providing national Bible translators with high-speed, digital Print On Demand (POD) systems, translators can print, bind, and distribute copies of God’s Word immediately.

“Print On Demand has become one of the boldest initiatives in the history of Bible translation,” says Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “People who, until a few weeks ago, had never read a single word of the Bible in their own language are now holding Scriptures in their hands.”

Even translators with digital copies of their work had no efficient way to print and distribute the Scriptures they translated. Conventional printing, especially in small quantities, is very expensive, sometimes impossible in remote areas.

A Wycliffe Associates Print On Demand system saved one language group in Kenya 50 percent over conventional printing costs, enabling them to distribute twice as many copies of the Scriptures.

Print On Demand systems also help national translators preserve their work. In many remote areas, translators have only handwritten copies of the Scriptures they have translated. Making handwritten copies of their Scripture translations is difficult, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. A Print On Demand system not only prints God’s Word, but it also preserves the text digitally.

Earlier this year, a language group in South Asia finished printing the first complete draft of the New Testament in the history of their language using a Print On Demand system. They hope to have the entire Bible translated and printed soon, which would be the first complete Bible in their language’s history.

“Print On Demand is also an excellent way for members of a community to give feedback on specific details of a translation,” says Smith. “If translators find that a passage isn’t clear, they can fine-tune so the final version communicates truth precisely.”

A full Print On Demand setup, which includes industrial-grade equipment, software, and supplies, costs $15,000. Wycliffe Associates has developed a $3,000 portable unit for areas where a larger printing operation would be too dangerous. The portable unit can be carried inconspicuously, in ordinary luggage.

To date, Wycliffe Associates has provided 21 Print On Demand systems to mother-tongue Bible translators and hopes to supply another 60 translation projects with Print On Demand systems as soon as possible.

“Print On Demand is paving the way for national translators to move ahead, without waiting for Westerners,” says Smith. “They are not focused on the risks. They’re focused on God’s Word and the opportunity to share it with their countrymen—fast.”


About Wycliffe Associates

Organized in 1967 by friends of Bible translators, Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators to provide God’s Word in their own language, partners with the local church to direct and guard translation work, harnessing their passion and desire for God’s Word, and engages people from all around the world to provide resources, technology, training, and support for Bible translation.

Because millions of people around the world still wait to read the Scriptures in the language of their heart, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to see every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart. Last year, 6,279 Wycliffe Associates staff and volunteers worked to speed Bible translations in 75 countries.

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