Ministry challenges Christians to worship this Christmas the way their brothers and sisters overseas have to do it: without a Bible.
Contact: Tracy Nordyke, Christian Resources International, 503-312-2400, TNordyke@dotheword.org; Krystal Collazo, WDC Media PR, 877-862-3600, 786-566-2452, KrystalCollazo@wdcmedia.com
FOWLERVILLE, Mich., Dec. 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- Christian Resources International, a ministry that sends Bibles and Christian books to needy Christians overseas, is calling on American Christians to spend this Christmas without the Bible.
CRI Executive Director Fred Palmerton suggests that "Christians here at home should try and conduct one worship service this Christmas the way that our brothers and sisters in the Third World regularly have to worship: without any Bibles."
"Every day, more than 122,000 people become Christian1, and most of those people are in Africa, Asia, and South America2," reports Palmerton, who serves as a volunteer. "They're attending churches where even the pastors have no Bibles. In our country, the church isn't growing so much. But the pile of Bibles on every Christian's bookshelf sure is." In fact, research by Christian Booksellers Association and Zondervan Publishers indicates that the average American Christian owns nine Bibles3 and is actively in the market for more.
Palmerton wants Christians in the United States to be more aware of the hardships encountered by their overseas brethren in even the most basic of church activities like reading the Gospel in fellowship. "This year, we want churches and small worship groups here in the USA to do one worship service without their Bibles. The only thing they can use is their memory, or what they write down on scraps of paper after visiting a church that does have a Bible." After sharing this experience, CRI invites churches and groups to sign up for Operation Bare Your Bookshelf (www.bareyourbookshelf.com), a project to make it easy for American Christians to send their Bibles and other Christian books oversees.
"When someone goes to the website, they just enter their name, address, and denomination," says Palmerton, "and then we'll send them—free—all the mailing materials they need to send their Bibles and Christian books to a specific pastor or Christian worker overseas. We'll even send them the actual request letter, so they can get to know and pray for the recipient by name."
Because the mailing materials bear CRI's return address, volunteers need not worry that they'll be personally contacted by anyone overseas. But Palmerton says CRI will personally pass on to volunteers the thank you letters generated by the packages they send. Volunteers and recipients are matched by denomination to ensure that the material sent by the volunteer will actually be used in the recipient's church.
Statistics are not collected on the resources available to the typical Christian church in the developing world, but extensive first-hand reports collected by CRI over the past 50 years indicate that the pastor of a typical developing church has access to – at most – one copy of the Bible, often shared with other pastors, and perhaps one or two theological books. Many have less than that; CRI regularly receives requests for help from pastors who do not have even a New Testament to use in their pastoral work.
"The resources that are desperately needed in the developing church already exist," says Palermton. "They are gathering dust on the bookshelves of American Christians."
The Bare Your Bookshelf web site (www.bareyourbookshelf.com) gives comprehensive suggestions on which books are most needed – books that most average Christians already have on their shelves, or which can be easily found inexpensively in each participant's local area. Each participant in the program can then fill the mailing bag sent by CRI and take it to the Post Office with the rest of their holiday packages. Sending an M-Bag to most countries will cost less than $15. Donors are also invited to contribute to CRI to support this project.
Christians desiring to donate their Bibles and Christian books are invited to visit www.bareyourbookshelf.com to register or receive more information.
Christian Resources International is a 50-year old volunteer-driven ministry that enables ordinary Christians to send their used Christian books and Bibles to English-speaking recipients in the more than 160 countries from which CRI receives handwritten and e-mailed requests every month.
1. World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001
2. Christian Broadcast Network, 2006
3. Research by Christian Booksellers Association and Zondervan Publishers, reported in Publisher's Weekly, October 9, 2000.