A strong sense of social justice and a belief in the Bible cause, are two of the driving forces in Michael Perreau's life. The new Secretary General of the United Bible Societies visited New Zealand recently, where he shared some of his passion for Bible mission and his vision for the future of the United Bible Societies fellowship.
Born into a Christian family, Michael, who is from Malaysia, came into a relationship with the living Lord in his thirties. By that time he was living in England, having arrived a few years earlier with £37 in his pocket and a place to study. Success in the business and corporate world was to follow, but Michael's life was to change following a stint as a global peace negotiator.
Witnessing the impact that only a very small investment in the lives of people living in poverty could have, such as a woman living in Africa who earned 50 cents a day for 14 hours work, but went on to become a successful businesswoman; he developed a passion for social justice issues, seeking to transform the lives of those living in poverty through enterprise.
But he came to realise that if change in people’s lives were to become permanent, people needed more than just a ‘hands up.’ They also needed the Bible to transform their lives spiritually.
Coming into a fellowship of this size where there are 146 Bible Societies working in over 200 countries and territories, Mr Perreau is impressed by the sheer diversity and the interconfessional nature of the organization.
But he's also aware that success in itself can bring new challenges in its wake.
It's a very different, technologically connected world to the one that the fellowship first faced when it was formed in Europe in 1946, from 13 Bible Societies, to bring Bibles to a post-war world.
When asked what some of those challenges are, Mr Perreau notes the impact of the global recession. But then he’s quick to point out that the changes that are currently afoot within the Fellowship are not about refocusing on money.
They're about ensuring the best use of all the resources within the Fellowship – “time, talents and treasure” – to ensure that our mandate of placing Bibles into the hands and hearts of people is carried out in the most effective way.
It’s about fulfilling a vision whereby within 20 years two out of three people in the world will have access to the Bible in their heart language in a format most appropriate for them.
Bible translation will remain a top priority, as will our ongoing work with the churches. But other emerging issues, too, will begin to be addressed, such as the need to reach out to a burgeoning, global youth population, and the need to use digital technology to allow many more people to have access to the Bible.
Asked about New Zealand’s place in all this, Mr Perreau thanked Bible Society New Zealand supporters for their generous support and commitment to the Bible cause. He hopes that they will embrace Bible mission in the future as enthusiastically as they have done in the past. He hopes, too, that the lives of those who seek to make a difference will themselves be touched and transformed.
This article is from The Word at Work – Autumn 2012