“What a joy that the Damascus Book Fair is back and to be part of it again!” says George Andrea, Director of the Bible Society in Syria. The world-renowned fair, which began in 1985, was halted in 2012 due to insecurity caused by the escalating war.
Although the book fair resumed last year on a much smaller scale, the ongoing siege of Aleppo, where many of the Bible Society staff are based, made it impossible for them to take part. This year, despite very short notice that it would go ahead, they were delighted to be back sharing the Bible at this important cultural event, which took place from August 2-12.
The heart of Syrian society
“Over the nearly 30 years that we have participated in the book fair we have come to understand how important the Bible Society stand is, because it brings the Bible right into the heart of Syrian society,” explains Mr Andrea. “This is the time when the Bible is there for everybody to see.
“So many people have told us that it is very difficult for them to go into a church and ask for a Bible. Here at the book fair it is much easier for them to come and browse through the Scriptures we have. This year, as before, we have welcomed everybody who comes to our stand and have listened and responded to their questions.”
The only Christian publisher
This year the Bible Society was the only Christian publisher at the book fair. Mr Andrea says that throughout the years they have always received ‘royal treatment’ from the organisers.
“It has been so great to see all the people who came to the fair – it feels like a festival,” he says. “People in Syria still love books! This year we’ve had four totally new staff members running our stand. They have been surprised at the kinds of people from different backgrounds who visit, and that many of them come knowing exactly what books they want to buy.
“The book fair appeals to whole families. It has been great to see them arriving at our stand with their teenagers and children, and how each family member finds a book that he or she is interested in.
“We are not at the book fair to sell as many books as possible – we want to provide people with books that will appeal to them, and our prayer is that it will be the Holy Scriptures. We will probably keep writing year after year about the book fair, because it is an amazing opportunity to meet with people and introduce them to the Bread of Life.
“Please pray for all those who visited our stand – that the Word of God will continue speaking to their hearts, and that we will be able to continue taking part in this event.”