February 25, 2021

Press Release

‘Serving the Soviets’: New exhibit at Museum of the Bible tells story of Ken Howard, who covertly printed Bibles in USSR for decades

WASHINGTON — Museum of the Bible’s newest exhibit, “Serving the Soviets: One Man’s Quest to Bring Bibles to the USSR,” will uncover the trials and triumphs of one man’s international missionary endeavors. Beginning Feb. 26, guests will have the opportunity to learn about Ken Howard, a man who risked everything to share the Bible within the USSR during the Cold War. 

A conversation between Howard and a man from Moscow inspired Howard to make Bibles available to anyone who desired a copy. Though the Bible was not outright banned, rhetoric and practices of the state discouraged religious activity to the point that it was essentially forced out of public life.

Initially, Howard and his team struggled to smuggle Bibles into the officially atheist country. However, Howard’s discovery of screen printing changed their strategy; instead of smuggling Bibles in, they would print them within the borders. Rudimentary screen-printing methods, using fabric smuggled in as curtain material or worn as petticoats, allowed pages to be printed without being noticed. Eventually, there were 75 printing operations throughout the USSR, and more than one million pages were printed.  

“Howard’s incredible efforts, done at great personal risk over nearly four decades, demonstrate great tenacity, creativity and a strong desire to bring the Bible to people who had never seen a copy,” said Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer at Museum of the Bible. “His persistence and courage ensured the Bible’s powerful impact could still be felt in a place where communism sought to ban its words.”

The exhibit — the first public telling of Howard’s story — will include video of Howard recounting his attempts to smuggle Bibles into the USSR as well as artifacts from the era, including a mechanical device used in smuggling attempts and a printed transparency and frame used to screen print the Gospel of John.

More information on “Serving the Soviets” is available here.