A mission group actively working in dozens of locations around the globe recently announced that nearly 3.3 million Bible studies were completed worldwide in 2006.
The Bible League – a ministry using Bible studies as the basis for evangelism, discipleship, and church planting – reported that an average of 9,032 Bible studies were completed each day in the more than 60 countries that it works in.
"We give thanks and rejoice, not only for all that God has done, but also for the faithfulness of His people who serve in and through Bible League ministries around the world," said Mike Southworth, executive vice president of ministries, in a statement.
"I find it vital to remember that each Scripture provided represents a person whose life has been touched and impacted by God."
Some 19.3 million Bibles were given out last year – a 12 percent increase from 2005, according to the group. In total, Bible League has given out more than 712 million Scriptures since its founding in 1938.
Bible League teaches the Word of God to people around the world through a series of Bible studies designed to lead them from evangelism to discipleship. The strategy behind the studies is based on the story in Acts 8 of Philip and the Ethiopian traveler.
"Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," [the Ethiopian] said, "unless someone explains it to me." So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
New believers are taught side-by-side with local Christians to help deepen their relationship with the local churches and members as their understanding of Scripture increases. Bible study students receive a copy of the Bible when they finish the study.
Last year saw a significant growth in the number of Bible studies completed in certain countries. Most notably, Thailand experienced a nearly 300 percent increase over 2005 with 61,377 Bible studies completed.
The dramatic growth was attributed in part to strong efforts by Thailand's ministry team, which visited local churches, met with church leaders and encouraged Bible studies in the heavily Buddhist country.
Significant increases in Bible studies were also seen in Cameroon, where the studies rose by 106 percent – from 34,818 in 2005 to more than 72,000 in 2006.
Puerto Rico witnessed a 67 percent increase with many testifying that the Bible Studies helped deepen their faith.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the Bible League team used innovative outreach strategies through church conferences, children's festivals, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and prisons to share the Gospel with its citizens in 2006. Overall, there were 20,000 more people who completed Bible studies last year compared to 2005.
"The political situation in Ukraine compels us to have flexibility, foresight, and the ability to quickly make adjustments to any situation we face," said Bible League's national director in Ukraine, whose name could not be revealed for security purposes. "Ministry must not suffer under any circumstances for we are obliged to fruitfully use whatever time we have to testify to the Gospel."
Bible League is an international ministry with the three-fold function of evangelism, discipleship and church growth. The group provides Scriptures to people and teaches them how to read the Bible in their own language. Bible League works with local churches in more than 60 countries, teaching them how to engage people in Bible studies.