Five barriers preventing access to the Bible worldwide


In our modern, tech-savvy world, it is difficult to believe that even one person does not have access to the Word of God.  With websites like and YouVersion, we may conclude that the Bible translation task is complete.

Although these websites meet the need for most people, there are millions who, for different reasons, cannot access these resources.

The reality is that millions all over the world have no way of receiving God’s Word, the Bible.  They live in a place where the Gospel has difficulty getting past the spiritual darkness.

Desert Springs Ministries exists to bring God’s Word to those who don’t have access to it.

From our efforts to bring His Word to the world, we have faced five barriers that prevent the Word of God from reaching the people who need it most:

1) The barriers of government restrictions

government barriersAccording to Reporters Without Borders, there are at least fifteen nations that restrict or monitor access to the internet.

For example, if you are surfing the internet in China and search for “天安門事件” (Tiananmen Square massacre), “人權” (human rights) or “美國之音” (Voice of America), your search will cause you to get an error message.

If too many error messages occur, your internet service will be disrupted for a minute or more.

In many countries of the world, the security police regularly arrest their people for unauthorized internet activity.

As a result, some Bible software is blocked or too dangerous to use in certain countries.

2) The barriers of geographic isolation

the earth at night: the barrier of isolation

His Word is most needed in the dark spots of the World

Surprisingly, not everyone lives near a city or a town where there is internet access.  For example, even large towns in Russia, China, Africa and South America struggle to provide electricity for their people, let alone access to the internet.

In many of these countries, the problem is terrorism, gang activity or political revolution.  For where there is civil unrest, the power grid is one of the first things that breaks down.

3) Lack of Internet Access

This map shows the most popular social networks by country.

Around the world, social networking is the most popular internet activity.  We love our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterestthe barrier of internet accessAnd other countries enjoy social media networks with names like Fotolog, Qzone, VKontacte and Sina Weibo.

Have you ever stopped to think how little we use the internet if we removed social media activity from the equation!

When a country has chosen a favorite social network, it indicates that the internet there is developed and inexpensive enough to be accessible to almost anyone.

In this map, most of the countries in gray have a struggle accessing the internet.  It may be because it is too expensive, or because of geographic isolation or a lack of infrastructure.

In these countries, websites of any kind are inaccessible to almost everyone.

4) Language barriers

The barrier of languageAround the world, at least one book of the Bible is available in over 2,900 languages.  However, the task of translating the Bible into the living languages of the world is still incomplete.

For example, according to the Wycliffe Global Alliance, there are about 1,780 languages without Scripture.  They estimate that 165 million people are unable to hear the Bible in a language that they understand.

Historically, Bible translation began in languages that were easily accessible by translators or were spoken by large numbers of people.  The remaining languages are spoken in places that are far off the beaten pathway.  In some cases, they are difficult to reach by road.  In other cases, political unrest makes it unsafe for Bible translators to live there.  And wherever terrorism raises its ugly head, Bible translation becomes too dangerous.

5) Illiteracy barriers

Literacy barriersTo someone who cannot read or write their own language, a printed copy of the Bible is useless.

Let’s say we could afford to give a Bible to everyone whose language has one.  Even so, at least 800 million people wouldn’t be able to read it.

According to Literacy Partners, 12% of the world’s adult population cannot read, write, do math or use a computer.

The task of teaching these adults how to read is practically insurmountable.  As a result, Aid for Africa estimates that it costs US$350 to send a child to elementary school.  Let’s estimat that it costs the same to teach an adult how to read. Thus, it would cost 2.8 Trillion US Dollars to teach them all.

Good news: there is hope!

Thankfully, God is providing exciting new ways to make His Book available to everyone in the world!

Sadly, there are people and governments who would try to stop the church from completing this task.  As a result, we can’t tell you here what He is doing.

That is why we urge you to sign up for our prayer letter.  By doing so, we can share the progress God’s Church is making in this vital task.

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