The other day I was wandering along the Thames Path with a friend — who happens to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators — and we came across a sign I couldn’t read. “It’s ‘No Fishing’ in Polish,” my friend explained, “We have a fair-sized immigrant community around here.”
How ironic, I thought, that the fishing Poles can’t read our regular ‘No Fishing’ notices: they need their own. It made me think of those photographs I’m sure we’ve all seen of kingfishers perched on those same notices. It also set me thinking about the number of Poles (or should I be saying Polish people? No doubt someone will set me right) and other immigrants who would be completely lost if they visited most UK Christian bookshops, my own included, with the vast majority of our stock in English.
There’s good news for the Poles, however, and good news for us as booksellers: one positive spin-off from STL’s recent merger with IBS (International Bible Society) to form IBS-STL is an increase in their stock range to include other language Bibles — Polish as well as Arabic, Chinese, French, Kurdish, Spanish and Urdu. That’s a Polish New Testament shown on the left.
Honourable mention must go to my good friend Roger Compton, a member of STL’s sales team, official STL mugshot on the right, for showing me these when he called in at LST last week. I invited Roger to contribute a guest blog introducing himself but he told me he’s a “grumpy old man” (his words!) who doesn’t do blogs! Sorry, Roger: there’s no escape — it’s blog or be blogged in today’s world.
STL are not the only UK source of foreign language Bibles, of course: No Frontiers (a division of Kingsway) offer an impressive range of books and Bibles in an equally impressive range of more than 200 languages, from Albanian to Zulu. Their most recent project is a Macedonian edition of Red Moon Rising, the story of 24/7 prayer as told by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts of Soul Survivor — the 24/7 movement has created something of a buzz amongst the students at LST, but not many sales of the book (a good sign, I guess, if it means they’re too busy praying to read about praying!).
Other sources are Chapter Two Bible Distributors and the Bible Society UK (not to be confused with IBS, please note: they are separate organisations), distributed by IVP. IVP’s distribution department has gone downhill over the last year or so, unfortunately, with a tendency to run out of stock, send out the wrong products or invoice for products they haven’t sent: buyer beware — if you can source your stock elsewhere you may save yourself a lot of admin hassle.
Finally, all of this brings me back to my earlier post about Bibles and Bookmarks: the one thing we absolutely do not need, in my opinion, is more English language versions or editions of the Bible; what we do need is more Bibles in other languages, especially in those languages that don’t have them yet. If you’re looking for a career change and have an aptitude for languages, do get in touch with the folks at Wycliffe: the more people we have working on this, the sooner the job gets done!