Wednesday, November 19, 2014

“Not ‘My kingdom for a horse’ but ‘Swahili Bibles for the Kingdom.’” ― Me

      The picture at the right was taken on January 31, 2003.  Two weeks later I would be taking the first of four trips to Tanzania and Kenya prior to our moving there in June of 2005.  At the time, I was under appointment as an evangelist for the United Methodist Church in Arkansas.  It paid nothing, and I got no insurance or pension for my labors, but it was what I did.  I took all the money I received from the revivals I preached and put it into the One Book Foundation (the logo with the Bible is on the gas tank of the motorcycle in the picture).  We were living off my wife’s income as a kindergarten teacher in Springdale, Arkansas, and I used the money from the foundation to fund my international mission trips.  While I never left the United States until I was in my fifties, all of those international trips were connected with mission.  Karen and I went to Curitiba, Brazil, where we ministered in the slums (Curitiba is about an hour’s flight south of Sao Paulo).  I traveled to Greece, Istanbul, and Switzerland as part of an ecumenical mission group where I represented Boston University.  Then, I made three church-sponsored mission trips over two years to the Peruvian Amazon where I trained pastors and distributed Bibles in Spanish up and down the river to Indian villages.  On my last trip to the Amazon, I led a group of nineteen to build a church in a village right on the Amazon (the church is still standing today, thirteen years later).  All of this taught me how valuable and powerful the Bible was and how important it was to get it into the hands of believers in their own language.  Two weeks after this picture was taken to accompany an article about me and my evangelism in the Arkansas Gazette newspaper, Karen and I took our first trip to Tanzania in East Africa.  It was on that trip that God spoke to Karen and told her that we were to spend the rest of our lives serving God in Tanzania, and so we have.
         I called the foundation I established with the help of Gordon Allison of Fayetteville, Arkansas, the One Book Foundation because John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said that he was a man of one book.  Oh, not that he hadn’t read thousands of others as he held a university degree from Oxford, no less.  No, what he meant was that he only needed one book and that is was only one book that held his allegiance and that provided him with the truth and grace he needed to be a true servant of God.  I felt the same way, hence the name.  When we first got here, I had about a thousand Bibles in Swahili and English and gave them away at an alarming rate.  I always carried them in my car and when we came to police and customs stops, I always gave the officers Bibles.  I became known as the “Bible Guy” which was fine with me.  We have supplied Swahili Bibles to all of our Methodist churches here (over 1,000 Bibles) and still need another 1,000 or so, but at $10 per Bible, they are too expensive to buy in any kind of real numbers.  It cost $500 just to buy fifty, so that is about the most we ever buy at one time.  Still, we have distributed Swahili Bibles to the Coptic Hospital, to orphanages, and to churches of other denominations as well.  Every one of our twenty-four churches has at least ten and some have as many as 100.  It is very difficult for the pastors to teach Bible study if the members don’t have Bibles, so the churches where they teach Bible studies have the most Bibles.  We cannot have enough, we cannot give enough, we cannot do the work we have been called to do without these basic tools of evangelism.  One pastor even gave his life saving his church's Bibles from a house fire.  We are planning several three-day Bible teaching seminars for our pastors and evangelists beginning in January and would like to be able to give every student at least two Swahili Bibles which means we need another 100 Bibles by mid January.  If you can spare just $10, please send that amount (or more if you’re able) to the One Book Foundation, 1910 Old Wire Road, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 72703.  Your donation is tax deductible and will be greatly appreciated.  It is also true that just by giving one Bible, you become an active participant in the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20).  That should be motivation enough.
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