What is Bible Poverty?

-Andrew H.
Bible Poverty. I know in Youth With A Mission we throw this term around a fair amount, but outside of YWAM it is quite possible you have never heard of it before. I know I certainly hadn’t before YWAM, and if you’re hanging out on our Social Media this autumn, you’ll probably see this term being used a lot. So, to avoid letting the term slap you around like a wet fish, we thought it would be a good idea to start off by clarifying what Bible Poverty is.

So what is Bible Poverty?

In YWAM’s Covenant to End Bible Poverty, it reads:
““Many people are living with Bible poverty, for they do not have meaningful access to God’s Word. The Scriptures lament those seasons and situations whenever “the word of the LORD was rare” (1 Samuel 3:1 NIV). This describes the current reality of many millions who can’t engage with God’s word because of linguistic, educational, economic, religious and/or socio-political barriers. Therefore, many exist “separate from Christ, excluded from the … covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12 NIV)”
Bible Poverty, simply put, is when a person or people(s) do not have meaningful access to the Bible in their Mother tongue or heart language. 

Sadly, this is the reality for 1 in 5 people around the world, as at least 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible (if any) in a language they best understand.

This can happen for a number of reasons including:
  • There is no Bible Printed or produced in their language
  • There is not adequate literacy education available for one to be able to read the Bible
  • One can not afford to purchase a Bible in their own language
  • Socio-political/religious practices make it dangerous to, or prevents one from owning a Bible

I know for myself, this can be a pretty difficult reality to wrap my head around, being a Canadian with access to nearly 100 english translations. So for those of us in the west with great access to our Bibles, try to imagine what it would be like to try and exercise our faith without the Bible. How would you come to understand who God is and what he has done? Where would you go to learn how best to practice your faith? How would you evaluate the accuracy of what you are taught about Christ and the Christian faith? Though not impossible, these questions become substantially more difficult to answer without access to the written, authoritative word of God, and we are often guilty in taking this for granted.
At YWAM, we believe that everyone on earth has the right to hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, to have a Bible available in their own language, and to have accessible Christian fellowship and education. As a result, the problem of Bible Poverty is near and dear to our hearts, and we believe it is our responsibility as a YWAM Ministry, and as believers to play our part in providing every person a meaningful way to access and engage with God’s word.

That’s why this October and November, we will be providing a variety of resources about Ending Bible Poverty, and sharing many of the ways YWAM Vancouver and others are working to accomplish this goal. So now that you know what Bible Poverty is, we encourage you to follow along, and become involved yourself!