Bible Print Shop Ministry Celebrates 50 Years and 226 Million Copies of Scripture
Bearing Precious Seed has printed scriptures in 65 languages across 130 countries—but says over 2,000 languages still without a Bible.
This month, Bible printing ministry Bearing Precious Seed (BPS) celebrates 50 years of printing and sending Scripture worldwide.
According to its website, it has given away over 200 million Scriptures and distributed them to missionaries, national pastors, and their congregations across the globe.
“BPS is fueled by the belief that the Great Commission, which was given to the church to preach the Gospel and teach all nations, is still relevant today,” its website says.
In 1973, the vision for local church printing, inspired by Psalm 126:6, began in the stairwell of First Baptist’s basement.
“You would literally bump your head in the stairwell,” BPS Missionary Representative Bob Ford told MinistryWatch.
By the end of its first year, BPS had printed 12,000 English New Testaments.
Fifty years later, BPS says it has printed Scriptures in 65 languages and distributed them in over 130 countries. In 2021, BPS printed 13,200,000 copies of Scripture in 21 languages.
Ford, 77, who has represented BPS for 48 years, said the ministry has always relied on traveling to churches to raise support.
Three of the five representatives speaking across the country are on the road full-time, including Ford, who canceled multiple visits in June and July due to health issues.
Although BPS is a subsidiary of First Baptist, it reports 990s under “First Baptist Church Scripture Printing Ministry.” Its most recent report (2021) lists $5.1 million in revenue.
Access to MinistryWatch content is free. However, we hope you will support our work with your prayers and financial gifts. To make a donation, click here.
“The general fund pays salaries for secretaries and workers who strip up, layout, and help the pressmen,” Ford said. “We also have staff that runs tow motors and loads the trucks and containers.”
“We spend about half a million a month just on paper alone,” he continued. “Not counting moneys that go into the general fund for ink, offset solutions and plates for the presses, electricity, and propane for the tow motors or glue required for the bindery system.”
BPS estimates that one roll of paper used to print the John & Romans books costs between $750 and $875. Each roll makes around 11,000 books, depending on the language. A truckload of paper for John & Romans books is $28K.
Bibles require a thinner paper to reduce heaviness. Paper for Bibles and New Testaments ranges from $1,000 to $1,300 per roll.
A truckload of New Testament or Bible paper runs about $38K – $42K and produces around 1,800 New Testaments or 400 whole Bibles, depending on the language.
According to Ford, supplies were much cheaper before inflation. Yet, despite an increase in costs, production is up. BPS published nearly 22% more scriptures in 2022 compared to 2021.
To ensure Scriptures get into the hands of those in need, BPS asks all missionaries they ship to to give proof of accountability. When applicable, BPS sends another local missionary to follow up.
BPS claims about 30 warehouses in different countries where missionaries and international pastors retrieve the books, assist in giving them out and confirm their distribution with headquarters.
As an extension of the operation in Ohio, BPS runs a “seedline program” for people who want to help but don’t live nearby.
Ford told MinistryWatch that five men drive from California to Maine to deliver materials to over 100 churches yearly. There, local church volunteers, families, homeschool groups, and Christian school groups labor to assemble the printed Scriptures.
“Hands-on participation by God’s people is an integral part of this ministry, and the joy of seeing families, including children of all ages, involved in Scripture assembly is beyond measure,” the website says.
BPS’ goal is to establish a local church Bible publishing work on every continent to give all people groups without Bibles their first copy. According to them, there are over 2,000 people groups without a Bible translated into their language.
Its other ministries—First Bible International, a college focused on Bible linguistics and translation, and a printing press in El Paso that sends scriptures into Mexico and ministers in Juarez—are steps toward that goal.
On its 990, BPS listed about $1.7 million in “other revenue.” Ford verified with General Director Al Braley that the amount was funds set aside that had yet to be used at the time of filing. The funds were mostly matched funds for paper.
Churches occasionally match raised funds and those who cannot participate hands-on may sponsor one minute of paper on the press or donate a paper roll.
Sometimes, donors sponsor a quarter, half, or an entire truckload of paper.
Ford said BPS continues to add new equipment and workers to increase efficiency and production.
Furthermore, BPS intends to publish in languages that have never been in print, with the strategy of adding one to two new languages annually. Ford says BPS currently has requests for over 300 million Scriptures.
“The need is just overwhelming,” he said.” We can’t meet that need unless churches see that a part of the commission is getting the Word into people’s hands.”
First Baptist hosted a summit for Bible publishing ministries earlier this month and will continue its weekly mission trips to Juarez, Mexico, from its El Paso location through the end of the year.