International focus: Global market experiences 'sobering and joyful year' Print
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 27 July 2009 02:45 PM America/New_York

CBA President Bill Anderson tells foreign delegates their work is 'never more important'

SASAsiansApproximately 280 guests heard about "a sobering, exciting, sad, and joyful year" during the Christian Trade Association International's (CTAI) annual International Vision Celebration (IVC).

"Due to the economic crisis, we lost friends who had played major roles in the industry," said Sylvester Ejeh, CTAI's vice chairman. "Others have grown and even increased market share. Overall, our membership has held steady. It seems the world economy hasn't impacted some countries—especially in the Global South—at all, but most countries have been hit."

During the association's annual report to members, Ejeh added that Western publishers and suppliers "are seeing international Christian product sales—which have held steady or grown as their home markets shifted—as more important than ever."

Owner of Edysyl, a bookstore, distributor and publishing house in Nigeria, Ejeh noted that CTAI will hold its first Marketsquare Africa conventions next spring.

"This unique show will start in Ghana, journey to Nigeria and close in Kenya," he said. "We will be in each country for three days, visiting stores and suppliers, providing workshops and exhibiting products appropriate for Africa. God is moving in that great continent, and we want to be sure the right products are there."

CBA President Bill Anderson encouraged the delegates. "The work you are doing is never more important (because) of the chaos in the world," he said. "What feels like pressure in our industry creates opportunities. Thank you for the great network of gospel-promoting (work) that you're doing."

Well-known German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke—the IVC keynote speaker whose autobiography, Living a Life of Fire, is due to be released by ER Productions in October—added: "I salute you all who spread the Word of God across the whole world."

The event encouraged Ify Nwosu, owner of Divine Christian Bookshop in Warri, Nigeria. "There's a lot less people here," she told Christian Retailing. "I know it's the economy. God is still great. I know the situation is going to change."

In addition to a special offering of $7,827.74 taken at the Worship Now! event, CTAI received an offering for $1,284 to sponsor 60 Christian retailers from mainland China to travel to Hong Kong to get vital training at Marketsquare Asia, to be held Sept. 6-8. It was the third year in a row that offerings were taken for Chinese Christian retailers.

During IVC, CTAI honored Gospel Literature International President Georgalyn Wilkinson for her 50 years in ministry and for her organization distributing more than 3,000 titles in 70 languages. Additionally, the association recognized Mathews Vergis, who published The Christian Walk Study Bible in India.

CTAI President Jim Powell said more than 50 international vendors conducted business in the Marketsquare area.

"What pleases me is that more and more companies that sell product and rights internationally recognize Marketsquare is the place to be," he said. "I had nearby exhibitors tell me that their international business was up nicely this year, with buyers walking by so often."

Powell said he was surprised by CBA's figures that revealed 534 international attendees from 56 countries, representing a 28% drop from last year.

"There is no question that this is a tough year, but the right people still came," he said. "One of the most frequent complaints I received from international buyers was ... losing a buying day at ICRS."

Meanwhile, IBS-STL launched a new identity, including a new name—Biblica—to reflect its expanding vision and focus for transforming lives through God's Word. Announced around the time of the convention, the new name is part of a re-branding process that began with the merger of the International Bible Society (IBS) and Send the Light (STL) in 2007.

Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica, said the new name was born out of 18 months of planning and developing a vision for the organization's third century of ministry.

"This year we're celebrating our 200th anniversary, and we see that as a springboard to a new era of Bible ministry," he said. "We believe Biblica—the name and the organization—are well-positioned."