It took twenty five hours to get there, but it was worth it. This week I traveled to South Korea for the first time to participate in a Global Publishing Conference being hosted by our parent organization, CLC International. It was a wonderful time to connect with my colleagues from India, Korea, the Philippines, Pakistan, Myanmar and Colombia. Each of these teams has been publishing Christian books in their countries for a number of years or is about to begin doing so.
Here is an overview of what CLC is doing around the world in publishing:
Korea – CLC has been publishing books in Korea for over 40 years. Their focus has been on producing academic materials for the fast growing Seminary and Bible College community. Given that the Presbyterian Church is one of the largest evangelical groups in Korea, the emphasis has been on translating and publishing books by reformed authors. Over the decades, the team has published 1500 books and they currently have 800 in print. CLC Korea is the largest publishing house in the CLC World and operates from a beautiful four story building in downtown Seoul. They have recently built a new and larger warehouse space to house the books they have published. With the growth of the evangelical church in Korea, the team is now looking to expand their publishing emphasis beyond the academic niche they have developed so well. It was great to see two of the books that they acquired from CLC Publications in the USA being featured in their showroom.
India – The team in India has reignited their publishing efforts in the last seven years. They are the second largest publishing house in the CLC World with over 600 titles in print. More than half of these are in the Tamil language. The team leader, Christopher Robert, has led the way in re-establishing their English language publishing initiatives. We have worked very closely with him and many of the titles that CLC USA first acquired are now being produced for the Indian market at very affordable prices. In the last 18 months they have launched a growing e-commerce website that is filling orders from all over the country.
Colombia – The team in Colombia produces the Spanish language materials for the rest of the CLC World and has 150 titles in print. They publish as many as twelve new titles each year and work with many of the largest evangelical publishers in the USA to get high quality content. We have a special relationship with this team and have given them first right of refusal to publish any of our titles in Spanish. Over the years, this has been a fruitful partnership and many of our new titles are quickly translated into Spanish and made available to the public. The work in Colombia is growing so fast that they have recently purchased a sizeable new warehouse to house the books they publish and distribute.
Myanmar – CLC has been publishing books in the Burmese language since 1992. Today they have over 200 books in print and have published some very important books including the Lion Bible Handbook and the Purpose Driven Life. Jacob Mung, the team leader, has worked sacrificially with his team to make evangelical Christian literature available in this country that is closed to outside missionary influence. One local pastor has said that Jacob’s efforts have changed the trajectory of Christianity in his country. They are now beginning of creating the first ever Burmese Language Study Bible. Ideally it will be available by 2017.
Philippines – The CLC team in the Philippines produce books in both Tagalog and English. Today they have nearly 300 titles in print and are working on as many as twenty new books a year. It was exciting to hear their desire to produce more books by local Philippine authors. They have worked closely with CLC USA to get rights for English language printing and have made many of our new books available within a year of their first publication in the USA.
Pakistan – CLC publishes books in the Urdu language in this predominantly Muslim country. They are currently working on two books by Lee Strobel including The Case for Christ. Given the small number of evangelicals in the country, they have required external subsidy for publishing work. It is a dangerous place to work and our team members have had their lives threatened in the past. Despite this, they minister on a daily basis to Muslims that visit our bookstore.
At the conference, we were challenged to consider doubling our publishing efforts over the next nine years and to help a number of new countries get their publishing efforts started for the first time. What a blessing to worship, dream and plan together.