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SOWER BICENTENARY YEAR SPRING 2017

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Our trouble with Harry

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ower readers may recall the feature about Harry Dormer – “the last colporteur” – in the Winter issue, written by Bible Society historian John Harris. We received two letters in response, the first from a man who worked with Harry and the second from the daughter of another person in the picture, whom we wrongly named as Harry. With apologies, and for the sake of historical accuracy, we are republishing the photo with a corrected caption. Dear friend, My wife and I were delighted to read of our old friend Harry Dormer. Harry was a friend (and contemporary) of my parents when I was a child and my Dad was the Rector at St Anne’s Ryde in the late ’40s and ’50s.

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Dedication of Harry Dormer’s 4WD truck: Harry, 2nd from left, Rev John Ridden, 2nd from right, Secretary of Bible Society WA.

As a teenage schoolboy, I still remember the week with Harry, who had come as a leader at a school Crusader Camp I attended. I think that is when I was drawn to his humble life, his infectious love for Christ and prodigious knowledge of the Scriptures. Later, in the ’70s, as a young curate at Christ Church Blacktown, I was privileged to work closely with Harry for a couple of years as a fellow staff member. When, a few years later, I became a senior pastor myself, I invited Harry to speak (and show his famous photos) at various meetings. In the 1990s, with Harry and Dorothy now in retirement in Ardlethan [NSW], I was delighted that my wife and I could take our children to meet them in their home. We loved Harry dearly, and treasure the memories and

photos we have of them. He was a wonderful gift of God to those who came across his path. He was such a brilliant one-to-one evangelist; there must still be hundreds around Australia who remember Harry. Your brother in Christ, (Rev) Graeme Begbie Dear friend, I have received my copy of the Winter Sower. I notice that on page 16 you have a photo of colporteurs and the detail at the bottom says, “Harry Dormer, second from right”. The man second from the right is my father, Rev John Ridden, who was Bible Society secretary in Perth, WA, for 20 or more years. He passed away in 1998. Christian greetings, (Miss) Gwendy Ridden.


Dear friends,

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an anyone predict what the word of God will do? I doubt it. I am constantly surprised at how and where and when Scripture makes an impact in people’s lives. Some of it is easily understood. A newly-wed couple promises not to “keep a record of wrongs” and to “become one flesh”. They don’t always know they are lining up with the Bible’s teachings, but are being struck by them nevertheless. A family hears the words “the sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life” at the funeral of a loved one and turns towards Jesus for the first time, looking for some hope. But often, the word of God blindsides people. That’s what happened to the hopeless, derelict Arthur Stace when he walked into church one Sunday angling for some free food. He heard a biblical sermon on eternity, and from that word God grabbed him. Stace went on to chalk the word

‘Eternity in his lovely hand something like half a million times in Sydney and Melbourne. Profoundly, and again, most surprisingly, that word appeared on the Sydney Harbour Bridge at the turn of the millennium, heralding to the watching world the deepest of secrets. In this Sower, that surprising word travels from Mongolia to Bangladesh, from the prison to the classroom. We don’t really know who nor how nor where it will have its effects. Our job is to make it known, make it available, make it understandable. God does the rest. But we can be 100% confident of this: God’s word will complete the purposes that he himself intends for it (as Isaiah 55:11 teaches). And we will watch on in awe as bridges light up, lives change and the kingdom of God races in.

davidbaxendale.com

Dr Greg Clarke, CEO Bible Society Australia

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MONGOLIA

From Genghis Khan to the love of Jesus

Flickr /Allan Grey

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hristianity in Mongolia is growing apace, with a reported average of 680 people turning to Christ every month since 2000. The number of Christians in this vast and remote country between Russia and China has reached 100,000 – about 3.6 per cent of the three million population, according to Christian radio station FEBC Mongolia. It’s a phenomenal rate of growth in a country where there were only 20 Christians in the early 1990s. There was a Christian presence here in ancient times, of course. History records that in the 13th century when Genghis Khan cut a swath through Asia and Europe to set up the Mongol Empire, one of his wives was a Nestorian Christian. The Mongol ruler, despite his ruthless treatment of enemies, embraced religious freedom. The mother and wives of his grandson, Kublai Khan, were also Christians. But Christianity was suppressed during the 70 years of Communist rule when Mongolia was part of the Soviet Union. It returned in 1991 with the influx of missionaries a year after the break-up of the USSR. Radio broadcaster Batjargal Tuvshintengel, known as “Bat”,

was one of the original 20 Christians in the first modern church. Bat, who is director of FEBC Mongolia, told Eternity during a recent visit to Australia that there are now 600 churches spread across the remote reaches of this sparsely populated land. About 40 per cent of Mongolians live in urban areas, in cities such as the capital, Ulaan Baatar, or Darkhan. One third live nomadic lives as herdsmen on the Steppe which makes ministry outside of the capital difficult. On the Steppe, some of the churches meet in gers – more commonly known as yurts. These are portable, round tents covered with skins or felt that are used as dwellings by nomads. Outside the urban centres, families pack up their ger and follow their livestock from one pasture land to another. Churches that meet in gers have to cope with serving a people on the move. As the church grows, the Mongolian Union Bible Society (MUBS) is seeking our help with a project that will enable it to reach more Mongolians with God’s written word

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Elizabeth Benn

The traditional nomadic way of life of Mongolian herdsmen makes ministry difficult for the church.

and help them to engage with it. This year, it has set itself a goal to distribute 10,000 Bibles to the growing Christian population, not only in the capital but throughout the 21 provinces, which cover a land area about one fifth the size of Australia. Distance and isolation are familiar to many Australians. But Mongolia is a vastly different world where the challenges include coping with winter temperatures as bitterly cold as -45C.

To reach these outlying areas, MUBS needs a rugged vehicle to cope with the poor roads and vast distances. “In order to distribute the Bibles, we need a quality vehicle which can cross distances – a jeep or a van,” says Executive Director, Bayarmagnai Bayardalai, who is known as Magnai. “Our mission is to provide a Bible to every family. We are also cooperating with three to four prison ministries.”

WILL YOU HELP? Please call 1300 Bibles (1300 242 537) or visit biblesociety.org.au/sowmongolia 6

Your gift can help the Mongolian Union Bible Society to buy and operate a vehicle, and distribute 10,000 Bibles across Mongolia this year.

$40 $80

could help MUBS buy a sturdy vehicle to reach the hinterland with Bibles. can help with fuel and operating costs as Bibles are taken by the thousands this year across vast and difficult terrain.

$120

will enable MUBS to equip local churches with God’s word as they build and enlarge the community of believers in Mongolia.


Devotion

To everything there is a season

pixabay / benscherjon

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hen you hear the word “spring” I wonder what images come to mind? I think of young spring lambs or beautiful blossom trees with tiny pink buds on previously bare branches. As a young girl, I loved watching the movie Bambi. I remember the scene where, after a harsh winter, Bambi and his rabbit friend, Thumper, are happy to see a flower poking its head through the snow, signifying that winter is finally ending. We all go through seasons in

life and sometimes it can feel as if we are in a never-ending winter and we wonder if spring will ever come! When I was at Bible college one of my lecturers used to say, “God moves behind the scenes, but he moves the scenes that he is behind.” It is comforting to know that no matter what season we are in, God is always moving behind the scenes. In the mid-’60s, there was an international hit song called To Everything There Is a Season. This song was adapted from the

first eight verses of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes and starts with the well-known words: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” These verses remind us that there is a season for all things: laughter and sorrow, killing and healing, planting and reaping, war and peace. As winter turns to spring, whatever season you find yourself in, may you know God’s purpose and timing in everything. Denielle Walsh Songwriter and music teacher

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BANGLADESH

Flickr / Photo by Felix Clay/Duckrabbit

Read alert! Help open the book for more women 8


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eing able to read and write is a major challenge in Bangladesh. Of the 165 million people in the densely populated nation next to India, 65 per cent are semi-literate at best. If you are a woman living in a rural area, your chances at literacy plummet. The ripple effects of no formal education are longlasting, affecting everything from supporting children well, to work and social opportunities. With your help, Bangladesh Bible Society wants to provide reading and writing skills this year to at least 1000 women through 50 rural churches. Not only will this transform their communication skills but it also is a powerful way of sharing God’s word in a country that is almost 90 per cent Muslim. While converting to Christianity is not illegal, retaliation, threats and unemployment can be direct responses to someone’s Christian faith. Murder and rape are violent acts committed against Christians. Making the decision to follow Jesus in Bangladesh can lead to physical, emotional and psychological danger. But as one of the programme’s participants reveals, being able to read God’s word in her own language revealed the light of Jesus that could not be ignored.

“I was so curious to know about Jesus Christ, and my desire has been fulfilled after attending this literacy class.” “Before attending this class I could not read any book,” shares Mina, who attends the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the northern region of Dinajpur. “I desired to read and write but I did not have any opportunity to do so. I did not even know Bible stories. “I was so curious to know about Jesus Christ, and my desire has been fulfilled after attending this literacy class. I personally came to know Jesus from stories given in the literacy books and CDs.’’ Each class consists of 20-25 Christian women who meet for one hour a day, five days a week. Classes are run by facilitators from local churches and aim to instruct women in literacy skills so they can read the Bengali Common Language Bible along with newspapers and other materials. Women will be able to read, write about and interact with the word of God, greatly influencing their lives and those around them. Will you help women in Bangladesh receive the lifechanging love, freedom and redemption that come from reading God’s word?

GIVE NOW

Please call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537), use the donation form on the back page or visit biblesociety.org.au/ sowbangladesh 9


The Bible world comes to Australia

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bout 230 delegates from Bible Societies around the world gathered in Sydney in July for the United Bible Societies Roundtable Exchange, at which programmes and priorities for the upcoming year were agreed. Over the next year, Sower will publish testimonies from UBS representatives from the world’s hot spots. Here we present stories from two Bible Societies in the Middle East.

Egypt’s youth celebrate the biblical story The steel-like faith of Coptic Christians in the face of horrendous terrorist attacks has kept Egypt in the international headlines this year. Less well known is how the Coptic Church has partnered with the Bible Society of Egypt to reach out to offer the freedom of Christ to the country’s young people. Twenty thousand children and youth attended a four-day event in Cairo in June, called In His Image 2017. As well as a biblical drama and musical, the event

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Teenagers raise their voices in worship in Cairo in June.

included a Bible competition organised by 65 churches with 160 participants, as well as 3000 talent show presentations. In total, participants received 480 Bibles, 180 story Bibles and 4000 illustrated Bibles. About 1300 teenagers studied the book of Habakkuk as well as the Gospel of Mark. Ehab Tanas, Fundraising Manager for Bible Society of Egypt, told Sower about the event during a break in the UBS Roundtable Exchange. “This is the first time we did a programme for young people,” he said. “We started last year, 2016, and we repeated that in the first week of June.”

As a result, a large church in a different part of the country invited the organisers to stage it again for them in August. “And we’re very much hoping that we’ll be able to do something again before the end of the year as part of the festivals of the Coptic Church. It is gaining support and endorsement.” Ehab said creating programmes for young people was one of the main challenges facing the Bible Society of Egypt. “We need lots of good ideas and programmes that would help young people become attached to the Bible,” he said. He says that the church remains very strong in Egypt.


Mike Bassous in Lebanon with some of the refugee children who are entertained by Bible Society

Love and reconciliation With six of every ten children in Lebanon born to refugee parents, Bible Society is concerned that a whole generation is growing up without hearing a Christian message of love and forgiveness. So it is running a programme called Reconcile in the country’s refugee camps. General secretary Mike Bassous says: “We have

a creative team that does a friendly gospel approach, so when we go to a refugee camp we do an entertainment approach with an embedded message of forgiveness and reconciliation. We talk about God’s love and the need to be within God’s love. “Sometimes we get wonderful reactions from the children. For example, when our animators, who usually dress up like a clown, come to a conclusion they say ‘Would anybody like to ask forgiveness from someone else?’ And a little boy will get up

on stage and say ‘I would like to ask forgiveness from so-andso because I hit him yesterday.’ Sometimes you would have the whole audience of children coming and reconciling, kissing each other and forgiving each other, just because we entertain them for 45 minutes, using Christian values and using a Christian message.” The children are up to ten or 12. “We simply go there, do our thing and we leave and we know that we are planting a seed of forgiveness in their hearts.”

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BOTSWANA

Putting on the armour of God Alex Sultan

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n a landlocked country in Southern Africa, Bible Society is bringing the word of life to the armed forces and police. Soldiers and police in Botswana work in communities with high crime rates, leaving them traumatised and spiritually drained. Many new recruits are young, and when faced with difficult work often become depressed. Divorce and even suicide often result. Soldiers

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and police officers often work in isolated areas, and are frequently ostracised by their communities, cut off from the usual ways in which people encounter the word of God. Bible Society in Botswana has made it a priority to reach these men and women with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to know the hope and peace the gospel brings.

“Sometimes they expect the bullet to hit them and it rather hits the Bible which is in their pocket and they are saved.” The Former Commander of the Botswana Defence Force, Lt General Galebotswe, says, “There couldn’t have been a better gift other than the Bible that the Bible Society could have offered the Army. This is a Book of Life. We use the Bible to transform


Soldiers in Sierra Leone received these Bibles before going to Somalia.

morality as well as to address the wayward conduct of a soldier.” Since the programme’s inception in 2012, the Bible has reassured many soldiers in their desperate moments that the Lord is with them and will help them overcome challenging situations. The programme is now being expanded to included police. “We have had testimonies – sometimes they expect the bullet

to hit them and it rather hits the Bible which is in their pocket and they are saved,” says Efua Ghartey, chair of the Ghana Bible Society, which runs a similar programme. Bible Society of Botswana wants

to give 20,000 Bibles to army and police chaplains to help them share the peace of Jesus Christ. Your gift will help them to find peace and rest during their difficult and challenging work.

WILL YOU HELP? Please call 1300 Bibles (1300 242 537) or visit biblesociety.org.au/sowbotswana 13


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he Christian Deaf in Australia have been saddened by the loss of two great Christians, Mrs Betty Bonser and Rev Keith Southwell. Outstanding Christian Deaf people, they were part of the Bible Society’s Auslan Bible Project, the ongoing translation of the Bible into Australian Deaf Sign Language. History will remember Betty Bonser as the first person to sign any of the Auslan Bible on video. The Auslan Bible Project began in 1997, twenty years ago, when video players were “high tech”, so the first books of the Auslan Bible were signed onto video tape. Betty was blessed with a deep Christian faith, a bright personality and, very importantly for the Auslan Bible Project, the ability to sign very well on screen. The release of the first Auslan Bible video was a milestone in Australian Deaf history. The video was launched in Sydney by the then Governor-General, Sir William Deane, in 1999. To the surprise and delight of the mostly Deaf audience, Sir William had learned Auslan in order to sign his speech in Auslan. There was wide TV, newspaper and radio coverage of the event. Betty Bonser appeared on the cover of the Bible Society’s Sower magazine. She was 81 when

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In the service of the

Betty Bonser on the cover of Sower

Keith signs the creation of the world.

she passed away this year. The Deaf community also mourns the death of Rev Keith Southwell. When technology replaced videos with DVDs, the project could create much more professional and attractive productions of the Bible. Keith was eminently suited to this new era of the Auslan Bible. He was a trained pastor and so he brought valuable knowledge to the task, particularly his long experience of translating God’s written word into Sign for his Deaf congregations.

Keith was a very careful and clear signer. Few hearing people have the gift to speak well on a recording and it is the same with the Deaf. Only a few are blessed with a good on-screen ability and Keith was one of them. His wisdom and his skill will be missed. Keith sadly developed Parkinson’s Disease. It was a sad day when he confided that his hands shook too much to sign on screen any more. He died this year at the age of 72 but he will long be seen in the Auslan Bible as the face and hands of the gospel.


e Deaf

The Auslan Logo – “God’s Signing”

The Auslan Bible Project is entering a new phase. Technology has advanced yet again and DVDs are out of date. In the near future, the latest enlarged version of the Auslan Bible will be released as an app and will be available for you to download. The challenge that lies before us is the same for signed Scriptures as it is with written Scriptures – to ensure that the word of God is not only available but also used effectively to build up people’s lives of faith and witness. John Harris

Sir William Deane with Deaf children at the launch of the first Auslan video

SUPPORT THE AUSLAN BIBLE Please call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537), use the donation form on the back page or visit biblesociety.org.au/sowAUSLAN 15 15


Why the good news is getting faster

Four key factors are helping to accelerate the rate of Bible translation around the world.


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ere is the good news about Bible translation around the world: it is getting faster. This means more people groups are getting the Scriptures in their own language each year than ever before. The global increase in the rate of Bible translation has led to a startling prediction. “Some people alive now will see some portion of the Bible available in every language on earth,” says Michael Perreau, Director General of United Bible Societies (UBS). “They might have just the Gospels or the New Testament and some others the whole Bible. “By 2033, if we keep the momentum up, we could see all languages having some Scripture. “I am not sure if I will live till then, but it is very exciting to think my children and grandchildren will live to see that.” UBS, which represents Bible Societies around the world, has an updated snapshot of how the Bible is reaching more and more language groups. There are some 6000 languages with 1000 minor languages – a total of 7000 languages. “We have translations in 2000,” Perreau says, “We are working on 2000. There are 2000 we have

Global Scripture update

648

Bibles

648

Bibles

1432

1432

1145

1145

New Testam New  Testaments  

Languages Languages

Por:ons &  Selec:ons  

3655

No Scriptures  

Por:ons &  S

3655

No Scripture UBS Global Scripture Access report, April 2017

not even begun. Currently, UBS is engaged in 451 translations.” The length of time to produce a Bible translation is reducing; “In 2011 we used to complete some five translations a year. Now, each year we complete between 25 and 30 translations. This means millions more people get the full Bible each year.” Four factors have increased the pace of Bible translation: 1) Digital technology makes the task quicker, putting translation helps in the hands of locals. Paratext, a joint product of UBS and SIL, accelerates the translator’s work. 2) Bible translators are no

longer just the experts from rich countries. Mobilising local translators makes the task faster. 3) Christian groups are working together on Bible translation better than before. An example is the Digital Bible Library run by UBS. It stores electronic texts, future-proofing the Bible against being stranded in obsolete computer and media formats. 4) “Every Tribe Every Nation” (ETEN) is a core group behind the changes. “For the first time it brings together the business community who have a heart for the work, and all of the key Bible agencies, to the same table,” says Perreau.

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AUSTRALIA

Freedom for imprisoned souls

Mission at home for youth

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Max Pixel

ost of the children and young people detained in juvenile detention centres have never heard of Jesus, but according to one chaplain, they seek out the Bible, because it tells the story of a God who loves them unconditionally. Lee Bromley, a chaplain at Reiby Juvenile Detention Centre in Sydney’s west, says detainees at Reiby love their Bibles, which were given to the chaplaincy team by Bible Society Australia when they first began working in the centre. “The kids love their Bible, and they get attached to the Bibles. It means that someone’s cared for them, someone has loved them and not judged them, and [someone has] really cared and is interested and listens to them,” says Lee. When the team at Reiby realised that lots of the kids in detention couldn’t read the Bibles they had been given, they started a homework centre where volunteer teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists would come to help kids learn to read and write. “We wanted them to be able


Encouragement for Christian teens

Reiby chaplain Lee Bromley

to read it and enjoy it, to have a wonderful experience and find Jesus in the Bible,” says Lee. She adds, “[chaplains] have a reputation within our own Bible studies. [The detainees] know that we are Christians – we don’t have to tell them. We just love them, because God is love, and we operate from that premise. They seek us out for the Bible. We don’t have to sell it.” Chaplains focus on meeting the spiritual and pastoral needs of the teens in detention. According to Lee, one of their greatest needs is summarised by the Easter story, because it’s a story of forgiveness and someone sacrificing love for them. Will you help us put a Scripture in the hands of these precious and vulnerable teenagers and give them the chance to find out about God’s unconditional love and free gift of forgiveness through Jesus?

Masterclass was a turning point in the young life of Juandre Van den Berg, who attends Southern Vales Christian School in Adelaide’s southern suburbs. “I had an excellent time at Masterclass 2016, which was one of the events that helped spark a love of missions in my life,” says Juandre, who is now in Year 11. “The speakers challenged a lot of my thinking, and I remember that everyone from our group was talking about the conference for days and even weeks afterwards.” Masterclass is a one-day event for Christian students in Years 10 and 11. Highly engaging speakers aim to inspire the next generation to grow in their knowledge of God; encourage the students to love others; and challenge them to discern the best choices to make on their Christian journey. At this year’s five Masterclasses, held across the country in July and August, we introduced a Hot

Topics Q&A panel at which our speakers answered questions submitted before and on the day. “I remember that the talks gave me a new approach to reading the Bible, and I was challenged to make a difference in the world regardless of my age,” Juandre says.

Juandre Van den Berg had an “excellent time”.

GIVE NOW

Please call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537), use the donation form on the back page or visit biblesociety.org.au/sowyouth 19


BSA updates Flickr / Newtown grafitti

Signs of the times Kiama/Gerringong Bible Society Supporters Action Group on the south coast of New South Wales got inventive in celebrating Bible Society’s Bicentenary. The group created large-format numerals – one two and two zeroes – and then divided them into 200 segments. (Sower editor Anne Lim holds a sample, above). Members of local churches in Kiama, Gerringong and Jamberoo donated $5 per segment towards Get The Word Out’s (GTWO) mission at home, supporting Bibles for schools, chaplains and Indigenous translation. The final amount banked was close to $5000. There are still a few months left for your group to fundraise for GTWO. Visit biblesociety. org.au/gtwo2017 for information and resources.

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From here to Eternity As this Sower went to press, we marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Australia’s most unusual evangelist, Arthur Stace. Better known as “Mr Eternity” and a barely educated recovered alcoholic, he chalked “Eternity” in immaculate copperplate on the footpaths of Sydney and Melbourne for 37 years. For most of that time, he was a mysterious unknown figure, with the one-word sermon appearing seemingly from nowhere. Stace would set off at 5:30 each morning on the tram, to chalk. The truths and myths behind this enigmatic man will be revealed in a forthcoming biography, Mr Eternity, by Roy Williams and Elizabeth Meyers, which Bible Society will publish in October.


BSA diary STATES NEW SOUTH WALES

DATES

EVENTS

VENUES

Sept 24

Sing for Bibles

West Gosford Presbyterian Church

Nov 11

Bike for Bibles – Hunter 100

Cessnock

VICTORIA

Nov 9

Mary Jones Lunch

Melbourne

QUEENSLAND

Sept 5

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Brisbane South

Sept 6

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Brisbane West

Sept 7

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Brisbane North

Oct 10

Get The Word Out Morning Tea

Kingaroy Lutheran Church

Oct 30

Redcliffe Branch Fundraising Luncheon

Redcliffe

Aug 27

Adelaide Hymnfest

St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, Adelaide

Nov 1

Bicentenary Thank You Event

Adelaide Hills

Nov 2

Bicentenary Thank You Event

Adelaide

Sept 22-26

Hike for Bibles along the Bibbulmun Track to raise money to support the work of chaplains

Starts from Donnelly River

Oct 17

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Perth North

Oct 18

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Perth South

Nov 15

Mary Jones Lunch

Perth

Nov 16

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Albany

Nov 17

Bicentenary Thank You Luncheon

Katanning

Devonport Hymn Singing

Devonport Seventh Day Adventist Church

North-Western Word Songwriting Showcase

Devonport Salvation Army

Hobart Hymnfest

St David’s Anglican Cathedral, Hobart

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

TASMANIA

Sept 6 Sept 16 Oct 22

*

* Please note the correct date is Sept 2

See the full list at bible.com.au/events or call Bible Society on 1300 Bibles (1300 242 537) Help us to provide 100,000 Scriptures for Australia this year. Have you held your Get The Word Out events yet? Details at biblesociety.org.au/gtwo2017

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Prayer points

October 1-7

Australia: Pray for the Word Songwriting Showcase in Devonport, Tasmania, this Saturday and Sing for Bibles in West Gosford, NSW, next Sunday. United Bible Societies: Praise God for the encouragement of meeting together at July’s Roundtable Conference in Sydney, attended by delegates from over 100 overseas Bible Societies.

Australia: Pray for gathering momentum and interest for the launch of the CPX (Centre for Public Christianity) documentary For the Love of God. Pray for wide viewing and that people will see the huge contrast of good when the church is faithfully in tune with Jesus and the Bible. Egypt: Give thanks for Australia’s partnership with the Bible Society of Egypt’s Bible-based literacy work. Give thanks that through the generosity of Bible Society Australia supporters identical twin girls, who are now 17 and never attended school, are now able to read God’s word.

September 17-23

October 8-14

Sept-Dec 2017 September 10-16

Australia: Praise God for people who raise funds for Bible work through events such as last month’s Sydney City2Surf, and hundreds who have ridden in Bike for Bibles. Pray for supporters heading out this Friday for a 74km four-day hike on Western Australia’s beautiful Bibbulmun Track. Venezuela: Please pray for Venezuela amid its political and economic crisis. Many have died during mass protests that have turned violent. Looting and other criminal activity have occurred, and Bible Society and its contacts have been affected.

September 24-30

United Bible Societies: Pray for protection against spiritual opposition, and for those in areas of persecution and oppression. Ask God to give courage to translators and strength to believers supporting their translation projects. South Africa: Give thanks that during the first half of 2017 the partnership with World Hope Ministries and Bible Society South Africa has led to the distribution of more than 5000 Bibles in 13 languages to prisoners.

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United Bible Societies: Pray for migrant communities to find God as their refuge and strength through Scripture. Thank God for opportunities to interact with people in need of the healing words of Jesus. Nicaragua: Please pray for Rebeca and her Bible Society team as they continue to serve and support kids with cancer and their families, providing Scripture, counselling and practical needs.

October 15-21

Singapore: Give thanks for Bible Society of Singapore’s 180 years, and pray that many will be inspired to join in the ministry during this year-long celebration. Africa: Please pray for continuing provision of funds to provide free Bibles for the Defence Forces in Botswana and Namibia. Please also ask for God’s help in fulfilling requests to do the same in many other African nations.

October 22-28

Australia: Praise God for people who support Bible


Society in their area by helping with events. Thank God for those that have served on local Branches. Pray this next week’s fundraising luncheon organised by Redcliffe (Queensland) Branch will be a success and enjoyed by many. USA: Please pray for Project Magellan, which attempts to clear the air, acknowledge mistakes, and get people to engage with the Bible.

October 29-November 4

Myanmar: Please pray for the Bible Society of Myanmar’s ministry in areas that are difficult to access. Pray for safety as the staff travel, and for the Bible to touch people in these places. United Bible Societies: Pray for Bible distribution and Christian witness in difficult countries where opposition can be forceful and there are threats of radicalism and heightened persecution.

November 5-11

Australia: Praise God for many loyal supporters who have prayed for and given generously to Bible ministry projects and events this year. Pray for guidance and encouragement for the Church, Community and Donor Relations team as they invite supporters to participate in the work, to get the word out to people who need our help. Vietnam: Praise God for the recently published Tay New Testament. Pray that the Tay people would have open hearts to receive God’s word into their lives. Please also pray for Bible Society’s Scripturebased literacy project.

November 12-18

Iran: The Bible Society in Iran closed in 1990. An estimated five million Iranians live outside Iran. Pray for the work of the Iranian Bible Society in the Diaspora as it ministers to people in many countries.

Sweden: Please pray for the easy-to-read Bible for migrants and other audiences. Ask God to increase the reach of the Adventures of the Bible project from 30,000 to 50,000 children, aged 10 and 11, over the next three years.

November 19-25

Australia: Give thanks for the Bible Society Australia directors as they freely provide direction. This year several newly appointed directors took the place of directors who have retired from the board. Please pray for this week’s board meeting. United Bible Societies: Pray for efforts to engage secular communities with the continuing relevance and importance of the Bible in countries where young people have limited exposure to Christianity.

November 26-December 2

Australia: Please pray for the Bible Society team as it continues to host many school visits each week, talking to students about the importance and relevance of the Bible in today’s world. United Bible Societies: Pray for continuing growth of relationships between Bible Societies and churches within their country so that the Bible is available in their communities.

December 3-9

Tanzania: Pray for Alfred Kimonge as he prepares to take over as General Secretary and CEO of Bible Society of Tanzania. United Bible Societies: The fast-changing internet environment provides challenges and opportunities for Bible ministry. Ask God for continuing guidance with programme strategy across the whole Bible lifecycle to reach new audiences leading to greater engagement.

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Spring Bible Reading Plan SEPT 10 – DEC 2

Abundant Life

By Karen Wilson

Week One

SEPT 10 – SEPT 16

Week Three

SEPT 24 – SEPT 30

SUN 10 John 10:10

SUN 24

MON 11

Eph 3:20

MON 25 Rom 8:2

TUE 12

Col 1:11

WED 13

Rom 5:13

THUR 14

Rom 5:13

FRI 15 Deut 5:10 SAT 16 Rom 5:5

Week Two

SEPT 17 – SEPT 23 SUN 17 1 Tim 1:14 MON 18

1 Pet 4:10

TUE 19

Luke 6:37

Rom 8:1

Fruitfulness

By David Williams

Week Five

OCT 8 – OCT 14 SUN 8 Isa 5:7 MON 9 John 15:5

TUE 26

Rom 8:5

TUE 10

Isa 45:8

WED 27

Rom 8:7

WED 11

Matt 3:8-10

THUR 28 Rom 8:9 FRI 29

Rom 8:15

SAT 30

Rom 8:18

Week Four OCT 1 – OCT 7 SUN 1

THUR 12 Mark 4:20 FRI 13 Psa 1:1-3 SAT 14

Matt 21:42-43

Week Six

OCT 15 – OCT 21

Rom 8:22

SUN 15

MON 2 Rom 8:23

MON 16

Gal 5:22-23 Col 1:6

TUE 3

Rom 8:25

TUE 17

WED 20 Rom 5:8

WED 4

Rom 8:26

WED 18

THUR 21

THUR 5 Rom 8:28

THUR 19

Phil 1:9-11

John 14:27a

FRI 22 John 14:27b SAT 23 Gal 5:13

We have been given a new life in Christ to be able to live large, loud, lives of abundance centred not on material things but those of the heart and soul. Abundant power, hope, love, grace, forgiveness, peace and freedom. Truly this is the kind of life God intended for all of us.

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Romans

By Stu Cameron

Prov 13:2 John 12:24

FRI 6

Rom 8:31

FRI 20

Heb 12:11

SAT 7

Rom 8:38-39

SAT 21

2 Pet 1:8

Romans 8 articulates grand themes such as the security Christians enjoy in this life and the life to come and the steadfast and faithful love of God that his sons and daughters enjoy. Not a word is wasted in Romans 8; join me to plumb its depths.

Nobody wants to live a Christian life that bears no fruit. But what fruit should we expect to see as we follow the Lord Jesus?


Hearing God’s Voice

By Tania Harris

Week Seven

OCT 22 – OCT 28 SUN 22

Ps 115:4-7

MON 23

Job 33:13-14

TUE 24 WED 25 THUR 26

Num 11:24, 29 John 1:14 John 16:12-13

Gratitude

By Rebecca Jee

Week Nine

NOV 5 – NOV 11 SUN 5 1 Chr 16:34 MON 6 Phil 4:4-7 TUE 7 Ps 30:11-12 WED 8 Ps 28:7 THUR 9 Heb 12:28-29

Unanswered Prayer

By Melissa Lipsett

Week Eleven NOV 19 – NOV 25

SUN 19 Jer 29:12 MON 20 Mark 11:24 TUE 21 1 John 5:14 WED 22 Ps 4:1 THUR 23 John 16:24, Mark 9:24

FRI 27

Acts 2:16-17

FRI 10 1 Cor 14:14-17

FRI 24 1 Sam 9:10-11

SAT 28

1 Sam 3:4-9

SAT 11 1 Thess 5:16-18

SAT 25 1 Sam 9:15-16

Week Eight

OCT 29 – NOV 4 SUN 29

Hab 2:1

MON 30 1 Kgs 19:12 TUE 31

Ezek 37:1-9

WED 1

1 John 4:1

THUR 2

Rev 19:10

Week Ten

NOV 12 – NOV 18 SUN 12 1 Tim 2:1-2 MON 13 Col 3:15-17 TUE 14 Eph 1:15-21 WED 15 Eph 5:18-21 THUR 16 John 6:11

FRI 3

Acts 15:28

FRI 17 Rom 1:21

SAT 4

John 14:21

SAT 18 Ps 100:4

It’s impossible to have a personal relationship with someone without two-way communication. The same is true for our relationship with God. Jesus promised that his people would be able to recognise his voice so that we could follow it. He has given us his Spirit so that we will all know him for ourselves.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!” Gratitude is a key that unlocks a treasure trove of goodness in our hearts and minds. Explore what the Bible says about it with Rebecca Jee.

Week Twelve NOV 26 – DEC 2

SUN 26 MON 27 TUE 28 WED 29

1 Sam 9:17-18 Matt 26:38 Matt 27:46 Isa 9:6, Rom 8:26, John 14:3, Rev 21:5 THUR 30 Eph 1:18 FRI 1 Heb 4:14 SAT 2 Acts 17:28, Rom 1:20

What should we do when God doesn’t appear to answer our prayers? Join Bible Society Chief Operating Officer Melissa Lipsett to find out.

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Celebrating 200 years of Bible Society Australia

The best-selling NIV is now available in a beautiful, commemorative edition to celebrate the Bicentenary of Bible Society Australia. Featuring easy to read, larger print and a full colour section outlining how the Bible came to Australia along with the history of Bible Society from its beginning in 1817 until today, this edition displays the faithfulness of God on every page.

This Bible makes a perfect gift, or a special keepsake edition for yourself.

$19.99 Hardcover

$29.99

Two Tone Leather

$49.99 Black Leather

LIMITED EDITION

Orders over $200 free postage

To order call 1300 139 179 or visit bibleshop.org.au


Bible Societies around the world

Eager hands

Two fish, one hook

The situation repeated itself at every military outpost visited by the Ukrainian Bible Society to provide Bibles to soldiers: “As soldiers lined up we asked if anyone had a Bible – and no, hardly anyone did!” says Anatoliy Raychynets. “‘Does anyone want a Bible?’ – Yes, everyone’s hands were raised ... Nobody refused to take a Bible, and I myself counted 14 people who came to us and asked for additional copies.”

Fish are central to the Shilluk people’s way of life, so when Bible Society met resistance to its literacy programme in the Shilluk capital, Kodok, Professor Twong Yolong Kur used Scripture that related to fish or fishing. He noticed that people listened intently when he read out Jesus’ words, “I will make you fishers of men.” “Some joined the literacy class and some of them became Christians and will be baptised.”

Planet Bible For the third year running, Bible Societies have distributed more than 400 million Scripture items across the world – including more than 34 million Bibles. That is enough for about 5 per cent of the world’s population. And since the beginning of the decade, the United Bible Societies (UBS) has distributed enough Scripture material for two out of every five people on the planet, including this woman in Ghana, above.

GPO BOX 9874 in your capital city P: 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537) ISSN 1839-7425 W: biblesociety.org.au E: sower@biblesociety.org.au ACN 148 058 306

Bible Society Australia is a not-for-profit interdenominational organisation. It’s a member of the United Bible Societies, a fellowship of 154 organisations working in more than 200 countries. Our mission is to achieve the widest possible effective and meaningful distribution of the Bible; also to help people interact with it and to have their hearts lightened by the Bible’s message of unconditional love in Jesus Christ.

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YES! I want the Bible to be available

For those who do not like to cut up their Sower we have provided a copy of this form with your address slip for mailed copies.

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Please return to Bible Society, Reply Paid 88900, Sydney, NSW 2001 (No stamp needed) You can also donate online at www.biblesociety.org.au or by phone on 1300 BIBLES or (1300 242 537). If these appeals are oversubscribed or a project changes due to unforeseen reasons, we will reallocate remaining funds to similar projects. *Receipts for tax-deductible donations of $2 or more will be issued by the trustee for Bible Society Foundation. ABN 41 725 839 724

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Sower - Spring 2017