State churches collect Bibles bound for people overseas

By Wayne Bryan Published April 5, 2012 at 3:33 a.m.
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— Members of the First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia are turning in Bibles - taking old ones off shelves and bringing them to church, where they will be collected before being sent to churches in other countries where Bibles are not only scarce, but sometimes outlawed.

“It’s exciting,” said Ardith Franklin, a staff member of the church. “I’ve had a couple of people say that it’s a great project that literally helps us spread the word.”

The Bibles are being collected as part of the Arkansas Bible Project. For almost two months, the good books have been coming in at 31 collection points in 20 Arkansas cities, according to the Arkansas Bible Project website. The locations will be taking new and used Bibles, in all languages and in all versions, through Easter Sunday.

“We have collected at least 200 Bibles,” Franklin said. “Many Christians have a lot of Bibles that have been gifts or are old that go unused. That’s a waste when others need them.”

The Arkansas Bible Project, created at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock, is coordinated by Garrick Conner, discipleship pastor for the church.

“We were working with the Secret Church Simulcast, an intense six-hour program about persecuted Christians who live in places where they have to hold services undercover,” Conner said. “It helps people identify with those who have to have secret churches.”

Conner said he wanted to do something more tangible for those Christians who are not allowed to worship openly and where thereis little access to Bibles.

“I got to thinking about all the Bibles lying on shelves, because we usually have a favorite we use all the time, so I thought we could collect those unused ones,” he said.

The members of Park Hill then invited other churches, church schools, and Baptist Collegiate Ministry chapters on university and college campuses in the state to collect Bibles, and together they formed the Arkansas project.

John McCallum, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Hot Springs, said members of his church are contributing to the collection.

“While most people have a Bible they will hold on to for sentimental reasons or is a family heirloom, there are usually others they can bring in to be shared with others,” he said.

The church is also contributing Bibles from its lost and found.

“People are always leaving their Bibles at church, and we have added them to the box going to the project,” McCallum said. “Since we believe Bibles should collect fingerprints rather than dust, we will send along any that are not claimed.”

“I don’t have an estimate on how many have been collected around the state,” Conner said. “[Project memberorganizations] will send the Bibles to us the week after Easter.”

Conner said 550 Bibles have been brought in to collection boxes at his church, as of Friday. The collected Bibles will go to Book-Link International in Kentucky, an all-volunteer organization that collects and distributes Bibles and other Christian literature through the Southern Baptist Convention’s international missions.

“They have asked for 100,000 Bibles for people overseas this year,” Conner said. “Ours will be part of ashipment going out at the end of April or late May, going to India and Zambia.”

C onner s aid t he project will accept personalized Bibles, which will also be passed along to ministers and churchgoers around the world.

“I like the idea of someone having a Bible that carries one of our names,” Franklin said. “It will be a blessing for them, and perhaps they will say a prayer for us.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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