Voice of the Martyrs recently published a world map that highlights the most difficult places to own or bring a bible. VOM is working hard to get bibles into these countries, and we are honored to be working toward the same goal.
There are many other ministries printing, shipping, smuggling, and carrying God’s word into these places as well. There are almost as many different strategies as there are ministries, and it’s breathtaking to consider how the Lord orchestrates his plans: One ministry prints, another uses cutting edge digital technology, another collects and recycles discarded material.
And you’re invited into the work as well. Pray for the work, learn how to collect material for us to ship, and/or donate toward the shipping costs.
VOM’s map is a stunning visual of the great need for truth.
Is the Bible Illegal in 52 Countries?
You may have heard that the bible is illegal in 52 countries. It gets printed on t-shirts and stitched on bible covers.
“Illegal” may not be strictly true, but it might as well be in most of these places. The Voice of the Martyrs map categorizes countries where bibles are (1) difficult/dangerous to obtain, (2) illegal or highly restricted, and (3) strictly illegal and only available through covert smuggling.
The map was in their last newsletter, but you can also see it on their website.
Click to see it on their site. It’s interactive over there.
Please note that no one is claiming that Christianity is illegal in these places. It is also not about which countries do or do not have physical church buildings or the presence of Christian communities.
Finally, it is worth noting that in many larger countries, especially, experiences vary based on specific location. Some states or regions within a country may have more religious freedoms or looser enforcement of restrictions than others.
A list of 52 countries where the bible is illegal and/or severely persecuted:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Central African Republic
- Myanmar (Burma)
- Philippines (Mindanao)
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
How to Get Bibles into 52 Restricted Nations
As mentioned, there are several good ministries doing this work. Pray about where God would have you get involved.
How is Love Packages helping? We collect new and used bibles and other Christian literature from all over the country, and ship it overseas.
Because we ship to distributors in port cities, we pack materials into cargo containers and ship about 20 tons at a time. It’s a big job, but it’s the very best use of our resources. Bulk shipping + donated materials and a lot of volunteer labor means that, when numbers are crunched, every $1 you donate puts 10 pounds of the gospel into the 10/40 window.
It comes with some limitations, of course. We can’t ship 20 tons of bibles and Sunday school workbooks to Beijing, for example, because it would never get past port authorities. We ship to distributors who can receive the material—like India and South Africa—and their networks move it over land.
We recently received this note from a distributor based in South Africa:
The Portuguese Bibles are all on their way to different parts in Africa. Some of them to churches in Namibia, some are waiting on private people who will visit Angola in a short while, some are on their way to a mining group in Malawi, and some to another missionary in Malawi. Two big boxes of Portuguese Bibles was sent with pastors to Mozambique.
Some of the Arabic Bibles are on their way to Dakar Senegal, some to Nigeria and Malawi/Mozambique, some to Uganda and Kenya, where there are new converts who can speak and read Arabic.
The Hebrew tracts will be send to Mr. [redacted] of Israel. He is a mighty missionary, and he will be able to use these little small tracts in different areas.
The French tracts are also being sent to Senegal – to pastor [redacted] – and to Uganda – to the area where the Kampala camp is with 12,000 refugees. I also send many French bibles from your organization to them.
There are several ways you can help:
- Pray for our ministry and our work. Pray for our team and our volunteers, for the finances needed to ship, and for our distributors and their teams on the field.
- Donate to help cover costs. If we assume, for simplicity’s sake, that a bible weighs about one pound, every $1 you donate puts 10 bibles on the mission field. That’s a good return.
- Collect used materials for us. Put a box in your church foyer. Scan the bookshelves at your local resale store. Hit up garage sales. We have all the materials you need to organize a bible collection drive at your church, and you can download them for free.
- Order materials for us. We ship to distributors who can use mostly English literature, but we also have foreign language material organized. You can order a case of Swahili New Testaments, for example, and have them shipped right to us.
Bible Donation Testimonies from Restricted Nations
Here are just a couple of the testimonies we’ve received from distributors in some of the 52 restricted countries listed above.
From Myanmar –
The past three month I went to Myansalii village. There was a man named Theing and originally his religion was Buddhist. They are so strong but the personal talking was very affective with him.
Now he knows that he has many great sinfulness in his life according the Bible which I gave to him. By the goodness of God He accepted what I am sharing with him in his house.
The story that touch him so much and turned him to God was the lost coin from the book of Luke. The coin doesn’t know about it being lost, he said that I am the same as the lost coin. I didn’t know I was lost, but now I know that He is the true and the living God.
From Kenya –
We are writing to say Thank You for the Christian books, Bibles and Sunday school materials. We hope to use these during the year in the villages of Kisumu rural areas where not many has bibles even the pastors who borrows from brothers who are privileged to have one.
God is doing a great work to get his word to his people all over the world. How will you be a part of the work?
Although there are countries where the Bible might be illegal, most of the countries listed are rather “hard to get” not illegal. There are a few countries that are christian countries with millions of christians. By putting them on the same list you’re harming yourself and your testimony… that’s a LIE. And also you’re harming peolple’s trust in you and their testimony based on your not so right list. You can change the title of your list, or you can do some research first and remove those countries that shouldn’t be on the Illegal list…
That’s correct! Voice of the Martyrs color-codes the map based on where bibles are illegal, highly restricted, or just dangerous. We copied their color coding in our text list. We did explain that in the post.
Ultimately, again, this is not our list. VOM is a great ministry to the persecuted Church around the world and they update this list every year. It’s so well known in some circles that the idea that “the bible is illegal in 52 countries” is fairly well known. This post shares that title because that’s the conversation we want to join. We wanted to share VOMs great work in assembling this resource and also provide some context to the very nuance that you pointed out! Thanks for all your help and prayers for the persecuted Church!
it is not banned in the Philippines nor in Mindanao…we have churches and missionaries in Mindanao
Voice of the Martyrs (the ministry that created the map) lists the Philippines as “dangerous and/or difficult.” So there are brave believers sharing the gospel, but they face some level of persecution in some places.
Columbia? The country in South America??
India????? lol. it’s not banned in my country
The ministry that created the map listed India as “dangerous and/or difficult.” So thankfully, not “banned,” but there are regions where it is difficult and/or dangerous to share the gospel. We hear stories from our own distributors in India that suggest this is true.
Testimonies from our distributors in India are here – https://lovepackages.org/category/testimonials/india/
Yes. OpenDoors has a great page of info on Christian persecution in Columbia. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/colombia/
Surprised no European countries made the list.
I am from Iran and I can tell you that you are dead wrong by putting Iran under “covert operations only”. Just look up Armenian churches in Iran in google. You will see that those churches are in plane site.
While you are at it, google “ancient enthusiast Vank cathedral”.
You will see a 360 view of one of those Armenian churches.
Additionally, in “google images” search for “abadan church mosque”. You will see that a church and a mosque are right next to each other.
Thanks for your input! It’s great to hear that people in Iran can access Christian communities and teaching. It’s difficult to discern a situation from halfway around the world, so we value your insights and very much hope you are correct!
The list is specifically about the ease with which believers can share the message of the Christian Bible and access the scriptures. Unfortunately, the presence of a Christian building does not always correlate with that kind of freedom, but we hope and pray that it does in Iran!
Ultimately, though, the list is not ours, so we cannot change it. It was compiled by an international ministry that is working to get Christians all over the world their own bibles. The rankings are based on their research and the experiences of their ministers in each country. They do update it every year, though, so hopefully we will see Iran removed from the list soon!
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