INTERNATIONAL: 50 millionth Child's Bible published
By John Newton
29 June 2012
A milestone in making the Scriptures available to young believers has been reached – as Aid to the Church in Need published the 50 millionth copy of its Child’s Bible.
The charity announced yesterday (Thursday, 28 June) that, since it started the initiative in 1979, it has printed 50 million copies of its biblical text, “God Speaks to His Children”.
The book, available in 172 languages, is widely used in areas of primary evangelisation and in some places is the first book, or one of only a handful of books, published in the local language.
Maria Zurowski, head of family pastoral work at Aid to the Church in Need, said: “For millions, the Child’s Bible is so precious because it is written in their native language, in which the readers learned to pray.
“For thousands, the Child’s Bible is the first book they have ever held in their hands. Sometimes, this little bible is the only book a family owns.”
The 50 millionth Child’s Bible was published in the Umbundu language, which is spoken in Angola, south-west Africa.
Umbundu is used by members of the Ovimbundu ethnic group who live in central Angola and the coastal strip just west of the highlands.
Mrs Zurowski said that it was very important for the charity to support the Church in Angola, which was still recovering from a civil war that only ended in 2002.
The Child’s Bible is widely used as a basis for religious instruction in many countries and in some places is used to help children – and even adults – learn to read.
In 2012 more than a million copies of the book are expected to be printed in 23 languages including, for the first time, Kikuyu, Luo, and Pokot – which are three of the more than 50 regional languages that co-exist in Kenya, alongside official languages, Swahili and English.
Mrs Zurowski said: “A bishop in Kenya told me that it is really important to have a bible in the local languages – he said these are the languages that the people weep and pray in.”
The Child’s Bible contains key stories and texts from the Holy Scriptures written in language that is accessible for children.
It was originally written in German by theologian Eleonore Beck and the illustrations were painted by Sister Miren Sorne.
The original idea came from Aid to the Church in Need ’s founder Father Werenfried van Straaten, in response to a call from Blessed Pope John Paul II to bring the Word of God to the weakest in our world, including children who are “so poor that they cannot afford any book”.
In January 1979 – the beginning of the United Nations’ International Year of the Child – Father van Straaten distributed the very first copies at the Third General Assembly of Latin American Bishops held at Puebla, Mexico, which was attended by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
- You can buy the Child's Bible in our online shop. Every copy sold enables the charity to distribute three more among poorer Christians in overseas countries.