Christian church plans to drop thousands of Bibles over Syria via drone

Posted August 20

A Swedish church is reportedly planning to use drones to drop thousands of Bibles over Syria — an effort that has sparked some controversy in recent days.

Leaders at Word of Life Church (Livets Ord) are hoping the initiative will lead some Muslims to convert to Christianity, according to Voice of America.

Joakim Lundqvist, senior pastor of Word of Life Church, announced the project last week in an Instagram post, praising it as a way to bring the Bible to those who have no access to the scriptures.

"Packed out church tonight as I got to reveal our brand new project: @livetsord will start using drones, three meters wide, to distribute thousands of electronic bibles to believers without access to it," Lundqvist's message now reads. "Let's pray the message of God's love will generate strength, peace and comfort!"

Rather than dropping heavy books from the skies, though, the Bibles will come in digital form, arriving in a tiny package that can be more easily delivered via drone.

The project has attracted some debate, though, as some have framed the church has attempting to battle or attack the Islamic State; others have simply questioned the logic of using a drone, considering the technology, in recent years, has also been used as a military tool against targets in the Middle East.

"The apparent logic of the Swedish church ... is that by using a tactic that simulates the airstrikes that have traumatized a region, they will bring light and love and maybe convert some Muslims to Christianity," wrote The Washington Post's Max Bearak.

But the church's missionary director, Christian Akerhielm, has pushed back against critics, saying the project merely intends to bring Bibles to restricted locations and does not want to be seen as "aggressive."

"This mission's project is closer to traditional smuggling of Bibles, and it is not connected to any military or aggressive action in any way," Akerhielm said.

It should be noted that the announcement Lundqvist shared on his Instagram page is quoted quite differently by outlets such as The Washington Post.

According to the Post, that message read, "@livetsord will start using military drones, three meters wide, to drop thousands of electronic Bibles over closed areas in the Middle East. Let's pray the message of God's love in Christ will conquer that of darkness and hate!"

The current message on Lundqvist's Instagram page, though, does not mention "darkness and hate." It is unclear if the text was changed or if the difference is a matter of differing translations, though it is possible that this post could have played a role in any potential push-back the church reportedly received.

It should also be noted that some outlets are also reporting the Bibles will be dropped over Iraq and not Syria, though the pastor's Instagram account does not indicate which country will be the intended recipient.

It is also unclear whether the church would need special permission or clearance for its mission, which is set to unfold in the coming weeks.

The church's drone outreach comes as companies and organizations are continuing to experiment with drone technology. From capturing stunning footage — as was the case inside this 19th-century church — to exploring package deliveries, the possibilities for drone usage are seemingly endless.

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