Austria is a beautiful country known for its music, art and amazing mountain scenery. Although the largest religion here is Christianity, many people do not have a personal faith in Jesus. Many traditional church denominations are in decline.
Since 2013 there has been a steadily growing number of refugees leaving the Middle East and arriving in Austria. There is now a very high ratio of refugees to Austrian nationals. This figure dramatically increased when in 2015, 90,000 asylum seekers entered the country. Many families were kept in tents and containers as the numbers exceeded capacity. These high numbers of refugees are accepted by some and rejected by many. They are people who have lost everything, are not allowed to work, live in very poor conditions and have a very uncertain future. It can take years to be granted asylum. If not granted, many are sent back to their home countries - if they do not 'disappear' to stay illegally in Austria. Most are young men, under-aged unaccompanied minors, and families.
Scripture for Refugees
Some refugees have been attending churches and German classes. Many are opening up to Jesus and asking for Bibles. The Austrian Bible Society started distributing Scripture to individuals as well as to relief organisations a number of years ago. Word began to spread about this free distribution of Bibles in lots of different languages. The demand increased dramatically and is still growing. We have been blessed to be able to contribute towards the cost of this wonderful ministry. The Austrian Bible Society simply could not keep up and the refugees often have the clothes on their back and nothing more.
Demand is coming from various places - churches who are caring for refugees, police who would like copies in prison or detention centre libraries, aid organisations working in refugee homes, and individual refugees who visit the Bible Centre in Vienna or write letters to ask for a Bible.
Bible Societies are working really hard to make sure there are Bibles available.