Average American Christian: Nine Bibles -- Average Third World Pastor: Zero Bibles
Ministry calls for Christians to “Bare Their Bookshelves” to ensure each pastor has a Bible
Contact: Liane Worthington, Senior Account Manager/ Publicist, WDC Media PR, for Christian Resources International, 877-862-3600, 570-282-5257, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOWLERVILLE, Mich., Nov. 10 /Christian Newswire/ -- Research by Christian Booksellers Association and Zondervan Publishers indicates that the average American Christian owns nine Bibles and is actively in the market for more.
That statistic troubled Christian Resources International Executive Director Fred Palmerton, whose organization receives more than 250 letters a month from pastors and Christian workers in developing countries whose churches own no Bibles or Christian books.
“Every day, more than 122,000 people become Christian’s, and most of those people are in Africa, Asia, and South America,” 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.”
This discrepancy led Palmerton and CRI to launch Operation Bare Your Bookshelf, 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.
How important are these books to the pastors who need them? One of CRI’s volunteers, Doug Burnie, regularly takes used ambulances and school buses down to Guaymas, Mexico to donate to charities, churches, clinics, schools, and so on. Before each trip, he fills the vehicles with Christian books and Bibles to distribute to Christians in need of spiritual resources. On a trip early this year, Doug met a pastor who was visiting from a distant Mexican city. Doug was able to bless the pastor with an 11-pound bundle of theological and spiritual works that the pastor could then use to lead his flock. Other than being glad for the chance to help, Doug thought nothing of this interaction until he returned to Guaymas later in the year.
When he got there, he found that the pastor he had blessed previously had heard of Doug’s return, and had again undergone the 800-mile journey to Guaymas. Why? To ask if he could have more books. The pastor had shared the library Doug had given him with six other pastors in his community. Their churches are so poor and have so few resources that the pastoral workers are going without the tools of their craft. These men so need Bibles and Christian books that this minister was willing to trek hundreds of miles just to ask if, perhaps, he could have one more book for his flock.
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 180 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.
Christian Resources International