You're probably wondering who we are and what we do. Thanks for asking.
In a nutshell, the Digital Bible Society is a non-profit ministry made up of web developers, graphic artists, pastors, missionaries, authors, translators, teachers, businessmen, tradesman, students and many others who have several things in common:
Over the past 15 years, we have sought to use this technology for the purposes of empowering discipleship and church growth through the production and distribution of digital Bibles and Christian resources.
Since 2001, we have formed over 130 partnerships focused on resolving what we call "Biblical Poverty" and are working together to make it possible for every person who wants Bibles and Christian resources to get them.
To that end, we have now prepared thousands of Bibles – and hundreds of thousands of resources – for sharing digitally. With your help and with God's blessing, we will prayerfully press on toward the mark of ensuring that God's Word is accessible in every language, and to every people group of the world.
That’s the short answer. But please – linger awhile. Learn of our ministry, explore our resources, but most importantly, join with us as we leverage new technologies to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to read, hear and understand God's Words of Life in their own language.
We look forward to hearing from you.
“The world has changed.” We hear it all the time; we have witnessed it, have lived it and are doing our best to adapt to it. Some call this change “the digital revolution,” but nobody could have imagined just how globally transformative this change would be.
Every major industry - communications, banking, entertainment, commerce, transportation, manufacturing and publishing – has changed. And the change is just beginning.
The digital revolution has also changed people. It has changed the way we communicate, behave, learn, think and live. What has not changed, however, and what will never change, is the deep spiritual need common to all men – the need to “live, move and exist” in our Creator, our Father, our God (Acts 17:28), , the evidence of which is that people around the world are searching for this Creator God on an unprecedented scale. And they seem to be finding Him like never before.
At the turn of the 19th century, there were less than 1 million Christians in China. By the turn of the 20th century, the number of Christians exceeded 100 million.
The growth of Christianity in the Middle East is explosive Iran, in a country where converting to Christ carries stiff penalties (to say the least) is leading the way with Christianity growing at an estimated 20% per year since 2012.
These growing movements all have one thing in common – the need for Biblical resources and training materials for Christians to more effectively grow in their faith, and share it with others.
Which brings us to the point: the digital revolution, now reaching into every corner of the world, has made it possible to ensure that every person, of every language, in every place has the opportunity to access the Biblical resources they have so long been crying out for – if we will let it happen. That is what the Digital Bible Society had been working toward since 2001, and with your help, will continue working toward until everyone has full access to Bibles and Christian resources in their own language.
In 1997, Time-Life magazine identified Johannes Gutenberg's printing press as the most important invention of the second millennium. In like manner, the A&E Network placed Gutenberg in first place when ranking the hundred most influential people of the millennium.
Within years of its inception, the printing press had turned the world’s economic, social, and spiritual order on its head. Overnight, the teachings of men like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli would spread across Europe like wildfire. The printing press paved the way for the Reformation and the Reformation introduced the gospel of Christ to untold millions.
As significant as that was, the twentieth century witnessed the emergence of something that may ultimately prove to be of even greater impact than the printing press – the personal computer. In the space of just two decades, the digital revolution has dramatically transformed the economic and social order of the world.
It has also changed the world of Christian missions. On any given day, millions of souls are searching for God on the Internet. Believers around the world are evangelizing with multi-lingual movies on their cell phones or searching the Scriptures with all manner of devices. Meanwhile, Christians in closed nations are beginning to share God’s Word contained in voluminous Christian libraries – all resident on a single digital chip.
In the last century, the world has seen the most explosive growth of Christianity in history. It is estimated that the Church in China has now miraculously exceeded 100 million Christians and continues to multiply with a growth rate of between 5 and 10 million believers a year. One of the many challenges associated with that growth has simply been to print enough Bibles to keep up with demand. The digital revolution is changing that.
But the story gets better. In the last few years, an unprecedented outpouring of grace and salvation has been sweeping across the Middle East. Millions are coming to Christ across the Islamic world where no churches or Christian resources have existed for centuries. Not only are Biblical resources scarce, but in many cases evangelism and Scripture distribution is forbidden. In a time when nations are in upheaval, some of the old established ideals are being uprooted with them. And as the Arabic world turns to Christ, the cry arises, “Send us Bibles and discipleship resources!”
It may come as a surprise, but meeting this need in impoverished and closed-access nations is often best accomplished with digital solutions! And that is why for over fifteen years, the Digital Bible Society has sought to partner with Bible translators, mission agencies and Christian content creators to create digital Bibles and resource libraries in order to leverage the power of the digital revolution. DBS compiles the best Christian resources available – Bibles, commentaries, discipleship materials, classic Christian literature, children's resources, music, hymnals, videos (such as The Jesus Film and The Hope), audio files, etc. – into quality, free-to-copy libraries. Once a language library is completed, DBS partners with missions organizations and individuals in targeted regions to freely distribute these libraries where most needed.
Thus far, the Digital Bible Society has produced sizable resource libraries for distribution in Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Urdu, Turkish, Vietnamese, Burmese, Bengali, Indonesian, Malaysian, Spanish and a number of other languages. These Treasures Libraries are available on a variety of computer media or directly from the Internet, and may be accessed on any number of devices including computers, tablets, cell phones, mp3 players and hand held projectors. Furthermore, any of the libraries may be freely copied and distributed, either digitally or via hard-copy printouts.
These are exciting times indeed, and we invite you to partner with us in “making God’s Word accessible in every language.”
We are often asked how we got started doing what we do; the answer explains much about how we operate. The short answer is that it is obvious to us that people around the world, especially in closed access countries, who are lacking resources could make use of digital Bibles, books, audio and video, that is, if they have access to a computer or a device that will display them. The long answer is a little more complicated, and if you have the time, it is provided here for you curious ones.
Our founder Ken Bitgood came to know the Lord in the Jesus movement of the seventies. He and others were discipled among a band of self-taught Bible enthusiasts – who gave themselves to Bible memorization and non-stop listening of the Scriptures using audio cassette tapes. They soon began evangelizing by coping and sharing Bibles, audio Bibles and teaching tapes with whomever would listen.
These Bible brothers were always searching out better ways to study, and when the Apple II computer became available in the early eighties, they were mesmerized and somehow saw this new tool as God’s gift to world for Bible study. Over a period of four years, Ken immersed himself in the writing of elaborate Bible software – software that would became obsolete when the Apple II series faded into obscurity.
Ken met and married Deborah in 1987, and was hired as an Air Traffic Controller where he used his computer skills to assist in numerous aviation-related projects. Yet, his passion to find better ways to study the Scriptures continued through the computer and internet revolution of the nineties.
Early one summer morning in June of 2000, while Ken was studying the 16th century Reformation and the impact of Gutenberg’s printing press on Europe, a strong sense of God’s Presence impacted Ken’s heart with the message that “another Reformation is at hand” and “because of a new printing press (the personal computer), the shortage of Bibles across the world will soon be alleviated.” It seems pretty obvious more than a decade later, but at the turn of this century, this was a pretty shocking notion.
That week, Ken received a phone call from friends, Pastors Hong and Amy Sit, for whom he had helped with computer set up for their mission program. (Amy, is the daughter of Leeland Wang, the Chinese Evangelist who is credited with being the father of the Chinese House Church movement.)
As it turned out, these Pastors were housing Jon – a missionary who had been in China for twenty years and had returned on furlough. Jon needed computer help. He was attempting to scan the unabridged Matthew Henry Commentary with the goal of taking it back to China on CD. Ken questioned where he had gotten such a resource in Chinese, to which Jon responded: “no, it’s in English, but anything is better than nothing. And that’s what we have China – nothing.”
Ken met with Jon the next afternoon and introduced him to a number of Bible Software programs. “Tears flowed down his face as he marveled at the hundreds of Bibles and books on my laptop. His first response was to immediately take the software programs and make copies to bring back to China. When I told him that was wrong to violate copyright laws, he reminded me that in China it is illegal even to distribute Bibles – why should he care about American copyright laws.” Ken responded, “Why don’t we just pray and ask God to give us any good content that is already in Chinese? When that happens, we in turn will burn it to a CD and send you back to China to distribute to your heart’s content.“ It was based upon this prayer that the Digital Bible Society was born.
Within days, they began to discover Chinese nationals working nearby to translate biblical content into Mandarin. We wrote letters to Chinese churches and ministries requesting content and to help us discover Chinese content. People soon began to respond – slowly at first, but the momentum of great organizations willing to share great content with the Chinese world has continued to this day.
Soon, others began joining in the work: Garrett Reed, the owner of a Houston-based software company; Pastor Don Gibbs, a Welsh Baptist pastor with over 50 years ministry experience; Calvin, a computer super-geek; Maurice, a Hong Kong raised Canadian business man; Dr. John Andersen – a seasoned Bible publishing executive – and others with varying denominational and work backgrounds, all with a passion for the Word of God and world missions.
Early on, we adapted some simple values. First, everything we created would be free and free-to-copy. Second, we would endeavor to keep our software delivery system free of installed software – so as not to endanger those whom we serve in closed countries (and ensure that those who were using our CDs on college computers or internet cafes would still be able to use the resources on the disk). Third, we would only distribute non-political, non-divisive content that was approved by appointed, well-known experts who had long served in their regions. Fourth, we would operate solely with partners in both the gathering of resources and the distribution of resources. Put another way, we would simply act as a clearinghouse for digital resources on behalf of those seeking to distribute content. These values that would be severely tested as we operated on a shoestring budget for over a decade.
Over the next ten years, our all-volunteer organization of professionals, programmers, home-schoolers, and digital missionaries visited dozens of Chinese missions conferences and labored toward creating trusted partnerships as we worked our way through 5 different major versions of Chinese Treasures. To date, with more than 40 organizations contributing valuable Chinese content we have sent out more than a quarter of a million copy-able Chinese libraries.
A dream for us came true in January 2010, when friends from the World Bible Translation Center invited leaders from 14 ministries to Fort Worth, Texas to both review the work we did for China and learn of our desire to create a Bible library for the Arabic world. God’s Spirit moved upon the hearts in a miraculous way. That same day, five organizations stepped forward and pledged funds with the understanding that the Digital Bible Society would create for the Arabic and Persian speaking nations, what we had done for China – but in one year’s time. The Digital Bible Society was also asked to study the changing face of the digital world to identify best ways to distribute digital Bibles in the emerging digital revolution.
At the end of this meeting, this alliance of ministries called themselves the Digital Bible Fellowship.
One week after this historic meeting, the digital world was forever changed when Steve jobs introduced a controversial new device type – the iPad; its launch is universally heralded as the most successful retail event in the history of mankind.
We immediately went to work hiring programmers and designers, but this time we were quickly buried in biblical content as new partner ministries contacted other partners and friends. Within weeks, organizations began sending Bibles, books, audio and video in epic proportions – happily overwhelming the DBS crew.
Meanwhile, new devices, it seemed, were appearing on the scene every week – tablets, Mp3 players, Mp4 players, hand held projectors, book readers, and smart phones with more smarts than ever imagined. It became obvious that if we were to serve in this revolution, we needed to have our products serve in the wide range of devices that were changing the way the world computed – most of which had one common similarity – the ability to read data from a tiny chip called a Micro SD chip. The interesting thing about this chip is that it is not only easy to carry, but it also has the capacity to hold more than fifty times more material than a CD. With proper compression, we could not only add dozens of Bibles and scores of reference books but hundreds of hours of video and thousands of hours of audio to a single chip. When the year was over, we had Arabic and Persian libraries that were more than seventy times the size of our Chinese Treasures.
The Arabic and Persian Treasures were first introduced in March of 2011 when leaders from some 35 ministries gathered near Houston, Texas to learn more about the Digital Bible Society and the Digital Bible Fellowship. The meetings addressed several critical needs shared by these ministries:
These meetings led to stronger partnerships, with a core of ministries who are deeply committed to these causes and collaborate in a variety of ways.
In July of 2011, members of the Digital Bible Fellowship, pledged to see the Digital Bible Society vision continue, and agreed to contribute toward an additional ten languages: Russian, Spanish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Burmese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Turkish, Bengali, and Hindi, for distribution as soon as possible. The Digital Bible Society then went to work seeking new partnerships and permissions for digital Bibles and quality content in these languages as we endeavored to create simple yet powerful digital delivery tools to ensure these libraries are compatible with the massive changes in computers, tablets, projectors, Mp3 devices and smart phones. These languages libraries have been field-tested and are now available for distribution from our website.
In July of 2012, six ministries, recognizing the need for a more formal relationship for distributing God's Word digitally, gathered in Houston, Texas to create the Digital Bible Alliance.
The intent of the Alliance was to share together and distribute together the resources being developed by the Digital Bible Society, as well as to share the funding burden, and learn together how best to serve the mission field in this rapidly changing digital era. The ministries were the Bible League of Canada, Bible League International, Digital Bible Society, OneHope International, OpenDoors International and The Voice of the Martyrs.
This provided not only basic funding to build additional digital libraries, but also a concerted distribution network such as we never dreamed of. We consider this event, and the privilege of working with such fruitful ministries amongst the greatest miracles of our lives.
What resulted since has been a string of large distribution initiatives that have now occurred on every continent. By the end of 2012, the DBS has assisted in the creation and distribution of over 30 million digital Bible and Christian resources in over 120,000 copy-able digital libraries that have been delivered to those who need them most - many of which are being copied at a rate that only Heaven knows.
The Digital Bible Alliance is committed to partnering together for the widespread distribution of digital Bibles and resources in every language so that everyone, regardless of their language, education, social status, or reading ability will be able to read, hear, and see the Living Word of God. The Digital Bible Alliance Charter can be read online here.
In the autumn of 2012, the Forum of Bible Agencies International voted to entrust to the Digital Bible Society a project that was started in 2009 which would attempt to index every print Bible, audio Bible and visual Bible. The idea was to utilize the power of the web interface so that people and ministries around the world could identify what was available in every language to secure a printed or down-loadable Bible, a video Bible (such as the Jesus Film) or audio Bible (such as a Faith Comes by Hearing Audio Bible) in any language and at any time, as needed.
The Digital Bible Society finds itself significantly honored to be a part of this project and hopes to utilize this database of Bibles to make God’s Word accessible in the languages of the world – in partnership with the more than 30 member agencies of the Forum of Bible Agencies International. Work began on the new Find-A-Bible project in February 2013 and a completely rebuilt web interface is being made available online across the world in the second quarter of 2015.
If you would like to be notified of release dates and important events, please add your email name to our mailing list at the bottom of this page.
Digital Bible Society
PO Box 2881
Conroe, Tx 77305
936-494-4442 (9-5 CST).