The 2012 London Olympics were a golden opportunity for The Digital Bible Society. Our job or (more accurately) our passion is to put The Bible in the hands of people who’ve never read it before and there are a lot of these people in the Middle East. The reason so many of them haven’t read The Bible or heard The Gospel is that institutionalized Islam has made it very hard to be a Christian in Middle Eastern countries much less publish Christian material in Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi. We talked a little bit about this in our last blog, how trying to publish a bible in Zirbe is an easy to endanger your life as well as your family’s. The cool thing about the 2012 Summer Olympics was that these people would be outside the 10/40 window and (dare we say) vulnerable to The Gospel.
The idea was was formed out of a partnership between Bible League International, the Digital Bible Society (DBS), and London based churches to purchase 20,000 micro-SD chips and then provide them giving access to hundreds of Christian resources like study Bibles, audio Bibles, Bible videos, and discipleship materials. A number of the DBS staff traveled to London to take part in the distribution.
A church of Arabic Christians living in London coordinated a team of 67 volunteers from eight Middle Eastern countries and 35 local church members during the 2012 London Olympics. They held an outreach effort focused on reaching Middle Eastern spectators with the Good News. During the Olympic games, they distributed 12,600 Digital Bible Libraries on SD-chips with discipleship content in Arabic. Wagih, the pastor of the Arabic Christian Church in London, planted the Arabic church in 1994 to reach out to Arabic speakers, especially in the West. While the church regularly organizes outreach events to England’s Arabic population and visiting tourists, they prepared hard for this special, Olympic event. Members of the congregation trained for four months in street work for the 17-day distribution event.
After significant encounters at Olympic venues – lasting from 15 minutes and sometimes up to two hours – the Arabic guests were offered an SD card. “There was very little hesitance to accept the Digital Bible Society chip,” remarked Wagih. “The fact that you give them something new and valuable is one of the advantages of digital media. Without the Bible chip, it would have been a different event. Just think of the fact that many are not allowed to bring a Bible home with him. A chip will be no problem!” Communication software on the chip will enable recipients of the Arabic Treasures chips to contact the London church which will then put them in touch with Christians living in their country. However, visits to the Arabic church began taking place even during the Olympics. Wagih reported that some 20 street contacts left the Games to come to a worship service at the project’s end. “And 20 other people have responded with contact details,” he added. “God has prepared their hearts, ministries working together have provided them the tools, and with prayer they will come to know Jesus as Savior.