A ministry organization is urging Christians in the United States and other affluent parts of the world to celebrate Christmas this year like fellow Christians around the globe – without a Bible.
“Christians in the United States 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,” Fred Palmerton, executive director of Christian Resources International, told Assist News Service.
“Every day, more than 122,000 people become Christian, and most of those
people are in Africa, Asia and South America,” Palmerton said. “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.”
According to the report, research from the Christian Booksellers Association and Zondervan Publishers shows the average American Christian owns nine Bibles and is looking for more.
However, such resources are luxuries in many parts of the world, where pastors have been known to drive 800 miles for the opportunity to ask for a Bible to use in their ministries.
Palmerton suggests that Christians in the U.S. would be much more aware of the hardships encountered by their overseas brethren by such an experience.
“Often, the only resource worshippers in developing countries have is their memory, or what they write down on scraps of paper after visiting a church that does have a Bible,” Palmerton said.
Christian Resources International said it is launching a campaign for people with abundant resources to share with those without those benefits, with its Bare Your Bookshelf program.
The effort moves donated Bibles and books from American Christians to overseas needy.
“The resources that are desperately needed in the developing church already exist,” Palmerton said. “They are gathering dust on the bookshelves of American Christians.”
CRI for 50 years has been driven by volunteers and moves Bibles to English-speaking recipients in more than 180 nations. The ministry gets more than 400 requests every month from pastors and Christian workers in developing nations where the churches have no Bibles.
“Statistics are not collected on the resources available to the typical Christian church in the developing world, but the extensive first-hand reports we’ve collected over the past 50 years indicate that the pastor of a typical developing church as access to – at most – one copy of the Bible, often shared with other pastors, and perhaps one or two theological books,” the organization reports.
“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 Christian in need of spiritual resources,” the organization said.
During a recent trip, “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,” the organization said. Burnie later in the year headed out on another trip to the same destination.
“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 one more book,” the organization said.