William Tyndale
Despite the invention of printing in the mid-15th century, there was still no printed version of the Bible in English at the beginning of the 16th century . This lack disturbed William Tyndale, who was keenly aware of the resistance of scholars and church officials to translating scripture - to whom he declared: "If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more scripture than thou dost."
John Quincy Adams
You ask me what Bible I take as the standard of my faith—the Hebrew, the Samaritan, the old English translation, or what? I answer, the Bible containing the Sermon on the Mount—any Bible that I can … understand. The New Testament I have repeatedly read in the original Greek, in the Latin, in the Geneva Protestant, in Sacy’s Catholic French translations, in Luther’s German translation, in the common English Protestant, and in the Douay Catholic translations.
John Locke
The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure, all sincere; nothing too much; nothing wanting.
Hudson Taylor
It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.

About the Digital Bible Society

Wherever we travel, we encounter church planters and evangelists who ask us for Bibles and discipleship resources. Many, especially those serving minority languages groups, have given up trying to secure Bibles in a desired language because of the costs involved, while others are unaware they even have a Bible in their own language. Jon Lee, Hong Sit, Amy Sit

Meeting this need is the goal of dozens of organizations like Wycliffe Bible Translators, Faith Comes by Hearing, Global Recordings Network, Jesus Film Media, Mars Hill Productions, and others who are pressing forward toward the mark of insuring that everyone can have a Bible in their heart language.

While most of these organizations have been doing this for a while, our ministry began in the summer of 2000 when our friends, Chinese-born Pastors Amy and Hong Sit, took a missionary named Jon Lee into their home. Amy, now with the Lord, was the daughter of Leland Wang, the Chinese Evangelist, who, along with Watchman Nee and others, launched the Chinese House Church Movement.

Working in China for over twenty years, Jon Lee had seen precious few Bibles and Christian books and was overwhelmed by Pastor Hong’s library. He immediately began scanning Hong’s books into digital formats with the goal of taking them back to China on a CD and giving them to his friends. He started with the unabridged Matthew Henry, a six volume, 12,000+ page behemoth Bible commentary.

"Anything is better than Nothing..."

It wasn’t long before Jon became exhausted and started asking for help. Pastor Hong contacted his friend, Ken Bitgood, and asked for advice on how to best scan such a mammoth book. Ken, a Bible enthusiast and self-taught computer programmer who had grown up using and writing Bible software, agreed to meet with Jon and introduce him to what was, at that time, cutting edge, commercial Bible software (PC Study Bible, Logos and others). Jon saw the abundance of resources available in the United States and began weeping. He then asked Ken to give him copies of these programs for distribution across China. Ken said, “No, that’s illegal. It’s against copyright law.”

Watchman Lee, Witness Lee

Jon questioned this line of reasoning by asking, “What do you care about American copyright law when we are going to jail for distributing Bibles?”

Jon questioned, “What do you care about American copyright law when we are going to jail for distributing Bibles?”

Ken told him it was a matter of conscience and asked, “Why would you even want Bibles and books in English? Wouldn’t it be better to distribute in Chinese?”

“Of course, it would.” Jon said, “But, English is better than nothing and that is what we have in China, nothing!”

It was at this point that Ken suggested “Why don’t we just pray that God would help us find Chinese resources for which we could secure permissions, and that we use our skills to help build them into deliverable libraries.”

They agreed and prayed a simple and bold prayer with a commitment to follow through as God provided. That simple prayer launched a ministry. Within days, they began meeting people from a variety of ministries who were busy creating Chinese Christian resources with the purpose of distribution in China. Six months later, Jon was traveling by train across China bringing resources to friends and colleagues on CD in a library he named “Chinese Treasures”. And, in spite of the crude nature of this library, Jon’s initial distribution was a resounding success.

Recognizing the need to improve upon this work, Ken and his wife Deborah, their three homeschooling boys, and a dozen or so friends went to work on producing a better product and soon formed a 501(c)3 ministry they called Digital Bible Society. Over the next ten years, this all-volunteer group formed partnerships with nearly 50 Chinese missions and resource agencies and produced 5 major versions of Chinese Treasures as hundreds of thousands of free-to-copy CDs went out to Chinese speaking people around the world.

Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry, once interrupted while engaged in Bible reading, held up his Bible and said: "The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed, and it has been my misfortune that I have never found time to read it with the proper attention and feeling till lately. I trust in the mercy of Heaven that it is not yet too late."

Noah Webster
The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions. "Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America's basic text book in all fields. God's Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct."
Mary Jones
In 1792, a little peasant girl in Llanfilhangel, Wales, named Mary Jones, became intrigued with the Bible and longed to read it. As her parents were too poor to afford one, she went to a neighbor’s house and borrowed a New Testament. Her eyes fell on three words: Search the Scriptures. Mary determined to purchase a Bible of her own, and for the next several years, toiled to earn enough money to purchase her own copy of the Scriptures. Times were very difficult, pennies were hard to come by, and books were expensive. But in the spring of 1800, Mary walked 25 miles, barefoot, Bala, Gwynedd, carrying her hard-earned money. She arrived there late in the day and found lodging with the local Methodist minister, but she could hardly sleep from the excitement of having a Bible of her own. Early the next morning, she proceeded to the house of Rev. Thomas Charles who was reported to have Bibles for sale. Imagine her sorrow to learn that his stock of Bibles was exhausted. Her inconsolable grief so moved Charles that he said, “My dear child, I see that you must have a Bible. It is impossible to refuse you.” Finding a copy that had been promised to another, he gave it to her. Rev. Charles developed a burning determination to do everything in his power to make the Bible available to any who desired it. He laid plans, garnered support, and in 1894 the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed, the “granddaddy” of all the world’s Bible societies.

Arabic and Farsi Bible Libraries

In January, 2010, friends from “The World Bible Translation Center” (now BibleLeague International) invited leaders from 14 ministries to Fort Worth, Texas to reviewed the work we did for China and discuss the dream of prepare resources libraries in Arabic and Farsi languages for free distribution across the Middle East. That same day, five major organizations stepped asking us to accelerate this initiative by hiring full time employees and pledged the provide the funds to make it happen.

We immediately went to work hiring programmers and designers to help us put the new libraries together. At the same time, we were inundated with new content as new partner ministries contacted other partners and friends to help us get resources in Arabic and Farsi.

That same month, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, introduced a new device, the iPad, and changed mobile computing forever. Meanwhile, new devices were appearing every week. Tablets, MP3 players, MP4 players, hand-held projectors, book readers, and smart-phones were flooding the market, especially overseas. All of these emerging devices had one thing in common, the ability to read data from a tiny chip called a Micro SD. These small data storage units were not only easy to carry but could hold more than fifty times as much as a CD-ROM. With proper compression, we could not only add dozens of Bibles and scores of reference materials to a library but hundreds of hours of video and thousands of hours of audio asl well, all on a single chip. When the year was over, we had libraries in Arabic and Persian many times the size of our Chinese projects.

An Alliance of Ministries

In July of 2011, several like-minded organizations agreed to form the Digital Bible Alliance, a fellowship of ministries committed to seeing the work of Digital Bible Society continue. Additional funds were committed to the development of libraries in ten additional languages: Russian, Spanish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Burmese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Turkish, Bengali, and Hindi.

This not only gave us the basic funding needed to build additional libraries, it also provided increased distribution networks for those resources. By the end of 2012, DBS had assisted in the creation and distribution of over 30 million digital Bibles and Christian resources and over 250,000 copyable digital libraries for closed access nations - without any idea of just how many have been copied.

In the autumn of 2012, the International Forum of Bible Agencies voted to entrust the Digital Bible Society with a project which would index every print Bible, every audio Bible, and every visual Bible ever made in order to more easily identify what was available and secure the needed resources. Work started on the Find-A-Bible project in February 2013. By 2017, three major updates have been implemented and it continues to grow in scope and content.

Work started on the Find-A-Bible project in February 2013. By 2017, three major updates have been implemented and it continues to grow in scope and content.

Thanks to initiatives like the Digital Bible Library from ETEN, hundreds of Bible translations became available for widespread distribution in 2014. We call it “the year the Bible went free.” Our focus grew toward ensuring that these Bibles were compatible with a wide range of formats, and to do so, we built an online distribution platform and called the “Bible.Cloud.”

Bible Cloud and Print on Demand

As Mission agencies and workers began discovering these freely downloadable Bibles, we started to receive requests for printed versions. Meanwhile, “Print-On-Demand” processing was emerging as a reliable and affordable means of printing books, especially for low volume orders. Consequently, we began processing and making Bibles available at the cost of printing on behalf of partners like Wycliffe and Pioneer Bible Translators through services like CreateSpace and Amazon.com.

Our story continues to unfold. It seems we are just getting started serving Christians around the world, by insuring that all people have free and open access to God’s Word and that every disciple-maker is equipped with what they need to make disciples in every tribe, nation and tongue.

Perhaps you, your church, or your organization, desires to be part of this unfolding story. If so, please contact us, we would love to talk.

Digital Bible Society History