NASHVILLE (BP) -- LifeWay Christian Resources is rapidly expanding around the world to serve a growing church in need of biblically sound resources, leaders said at its first Global Summit, Feb. 28-March 2.
"God is pouring out His Spirit on the nations," said Craig Featherstone, director of LifeWay Global. "LifeWay exists to serve the church in her mission of making disciples. And that promise extends to the ends of the earth.
"There's explosive growth in the church internationally, and they don't have access to the resources they need. The gap demands a response."
He and other leaders outlined some of LifeWay's efforts to step into the gap:
-- LifeWay recently established a formal presence in Mexico and released a catalog of products priced in Mexican pesos. Events in several cities are drawing as many as 5,000 people, said Eleazar Ortiz, LifeWay trade partner in Mexico, speaking through a translator.
-- LifeWay also is establishing a formal presence in India and will soon open an e-commerce website there. "For the first time in the 126-year history of LifeWay, we're launching a transactional dot-com platform in another part of the world," Featherstone said.
-- This spring, LifeWay in partnership with Brazilian publisher BV Books will release the BKJ 1611, a new Portuguese translation of the Bible with a traditional focus. This is LifeWay's first venture into Bible publishing in Brazil, one of the largest Bible markets in the world. Also in Brazil, more than 700,000 people viewed the faith-based film "War Room" in theaters, said Claudio Rodriguez, president of BV Books, speaking through a translator.
-- This summer, LifeWay will launch a Spanish-language Big Picture Interactive Bible for Kids with an augmented reality app that brings Bible stories to life on smartphones.
-- In China, where the government limits Bible distribution, LifeWay and its ministry partners focus on training. "Experiencing God" and "Spiritual Leadership," two titles from LifeWay's B&H Publishing Group, have been translated into Mandarin. LifeWay's discipleship and church health specialist Claude King traveled to China last summer to train leaders.
-- In Guatemala, LifeWay added a representative to serve Central America and the Caribbean.
-- In South Africa, several recent B&H titles have been translated into Afrikaans, including Stephen and Alex Kendrick's "The Battle Plan for Prayer," Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" and Priscilla Shirer's "Fervent."
LifeWay now reaches 163 countries with print and digital resources, with offices or representatives in China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Guatemala, Featherstone said. Resources are published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean and licensed in more than 50 languages. In the coming year, he said strong growth is expected in the global south -- Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Featherstone noted Southern Baptists' deep roots in global ministry, from the International Mission Board to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. After believers come to faith through those worldwide evangelism efforts, they need resources for Bible study, discipleship and ministry, he said.
"LifeWay is exceptionally blessed to have a full portfolio we can take to the global church," he said.
"People know us for our trustworthy content. Our conservative biblical position has produced broad acceptance of LifeWay across a large spectrum of the church."
Economic problems and currency exchange rates are creating challenges in many global markets, Featherstone said, noting, "This is one of the most difficult economic climates globally I've seen in my lifetime."
But he vowed not to let financial issues get in the way of distributing biblical resources to those who need them.
"We want to provide affordable, locally available resources to help believers grow," he said.
One way LifeWay accomplishes this is through strategic partnerships with publishers and distributors. Producing and warehousing resources within the countries where they will be distributed can make them more affordable.
LifeWay also plans to expand publishing content by indigenous authors who can address the needs of churches and individual believers in their own countries.
Featherstone pointed to the diversity of LifeWay's global staff. "To serve the nations, it helps to be the nations," he said.
Eric Geiger, vice president at LifeWay, encouraged leaders to experiment to find the best solutions for the nations, knowing they are following God's heart for global ministry.
"We provide resources that help the nations obey all that He has commanded us," Geiger said.
Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay, reminded the group of Christ's call for Christians to make disciples of all nations.
"We're not doing Great Commission work if we're secluded in a singular geographic area," Rainer said. "We cannot be obedient unless we are global."