Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is helping to spread the Good News to Africa’s children by publishing its Child’s Bible in still more languages.
A grant of more than $27,500 from ACN will print and ship Child’s Bibles to Africa – as well as Child’s Bible posters – for use by children worldwide.
In 2009, the book’s 30th anniversary, the charity received requests for more than 1.2 million copies from bishops around the globe.
ACN has recently produced eight new versions of the Child’s Bible – in the Lunda and Luvale languages for Zambia, Konkomba for Ghana, Chindau and Maconde for Mozambique, Luo for Kenya, Boko for Benin and Bari for Sudan.
Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Sudan, wrote: “This book is a great help in our pastoral work.”
The bishop, whose diocese is Wau, in South Sudan, said: “The people – our children – have a veritable thirst for the saving word of God, above all in this time of oppression.”
Presently available in 67 different African languages – many of which have few or no other books published – around 15 million copies have been distributed on the continent.
The Child’s Bible – titled God speaks to His children – is not only used in teaching the faith and preparing for the sacraments, but also in helping children learn to read.
Bishop Marc Benjamin of Faranfangana, Madagascar, is giving out the Child’s Bible to all the baptized, including adults.
He said: “Through our Bible campaign, as we call it, we at the same time want to reduce the number of illiterates.”
“In other words, we are teaching people to read and write and at the same time bringing them the Word of God – and those who have learned to read are given a copy of the little Bible.”
Recently ACN brought out a poster series, based on the 55 illustrations in the Child’s Bible, which can be used as a visual aid in catechesis.
Father Miguel, who works among the Nivaclé people in Paraguay, told the Catholic charity how he used the posters to decorate the parish chapel until the Child’s Bible was printed in the children’s language.
One catechist who used the posters said if children were shown the images they could recite the story that accompanied it.
For many children in these countries the Child’s Bible is the only printed book they have seen.
Teresia Rita Njore, a child from Kenya, said her friends have had their faith deepened by the Child’s Bible.
She wrote: “Before I was not interested in reading the Bible – but now I know that God speaks to His children.”
The Child’s Bible was the idea of ACN founder Father Werenfried van Straaten who wanted to respond to Pope John Paul II’s wish to “bring the Word of God to the weakest, to the children living in poverty and want in so many countries.”
The original text was written in German by theologian Eleonore Beck, and the illustrations are by Spanish nun Sister Miren Sorne.
Since it was first published in 1979 some 48 million copies have been printed in 162 different languages and distributed in 140 countries around the globe.