SOWER BICENTENARY YEAR SUMMER 2017-18
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Bringing the living water Sower reader Glenys Bastow has written to us with the story of her late friend, Jock Kennedy, who was a colporteur (travelling bookseller) for the British and Foreign Bible Society from 1938 to mid-1942. You can see him above in the hardy, one-tonne Bedford van that served as his home and transport. With his brother Gordon, Jock travelled across northern Victoria to Adelaide and then across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth, bringing the gospel to settlers in lonely outposts. Many were hard-drinking miners who frequently mocked the gospel message. But Jock sold many
colourful illustrated Bibles to families of railway settlers. As they crossed the Nullarbor, the roughness of the “track” and summer heat played havoc with the van’s tyres, with blow-out after blow-out. They learned the preciousness of water when it became a matter of life and death. “We were about 25km from a place called Coonana and I couldn’t get the engine going,” Jock was to recount. “I could do little then but ask Gordon to go to Coonana for help ... After Gordon had left and gone some distance with about half a bottle of cordial to sustain him
in the December heat … the car started – I considered it nothing short of miraculous ... I limped along and found Gordon with his half bottle of cordial, standing looking at a dead wallaby. How grateful I was to catch up with him as I really felt that I might have been sending him to his death … “Then we came to a place where there was an outcrop of tremendous rocks with a beautiful well with the coolest water. We were overjoyed and continuously drew buckets of water and threw them over each other ... it was nothing short of a Hagar experience (Genesis 21:19)”.
ou are never too young or too old to read the Scriptures. And if your eyesight is going, or you haven’t learnt to read yet, we will find other formats for you – audio Bibles, picture Bibles, whatever you need. That’s our commitment at Bible Society: providing the Bible for everyone, in your preferred language, in products you can actually use, and at affordable prices (free if you need it). But we do need to prioritise our work. And when I reflect on that, I keep coming back to the next generation. If they don’t know the word of God, they are lost. That’s why so much of our work focuses on caring for children, assisting with education, and helping families with Bible engagement. In this issue, we highlight work for unwell kids in Nicaragua, offering families the hope of Christ amid treatment for cancer. We also continue to support the amazing literacy programme in Egypt, helping Christians under pressure to escape poverty and trust in God’s word.
In Australia, too, we have now a couple of generations of people who may not have come into serious contact with the Bible during their formative years, and it is showing. A lack of basic understanding of the good news of Christianity may be behind several of our social problems, particularly our confusion over how human beings should treat each other. People need the word of God. We won’t just naturally love God and love our neighbours as ourselves. How can a society behave in a Christian manner if it doesn’t know what that is? Thank you as always for being part of the answer.
Dr Greg Clarke, CEO Bible Society Australia
School for life
Itâ€™s all smiles in a literacy class at a church in a poor area of Cairo.
n a dusty, narrow street in a poor part of Cairo stands a building that doesn’t look like a church. It blends in with all the other rusty red brick apartments in the neighbourhood. All around are small shops selling fruit or meat, or mechanical repairs. Washing hangs high above, out of people’s windows. But this unobtrusive church is the hub of activity for Christians in the area – about 3500 families centre their lives around it. When Bible Society Australia’s Scott Walters visits, he finds a small group of about 15 people at the back of the church, nearly all women, who are joyfully transforming their lives by learning to read and discuss the Bible. Mary, who left school after fourth grade because her parents couldn’t afford to send her any more, says her life has totally changed since joining the class a year ago. “Being able to read and write adds a lot of joy to my life because I can now open any material and I can read, especially the Bible,” she says. Before, when attending church, she used to cry “all the time” because she couldn’t follow the liturgy. Now she loves being able to participate in the ministry of the church.
“I was very frustrated and upset because I didn’t know the meaning of the words when they bowed, knelt during church ... I was like a blind person but now I can see!” It is early evening and the Muslim call to prayer is ringing out loudly as Scott winds his way through the darkening back streets of northern Cairo to visit another busy church which hosts literacy classes twice a week. Here he is shocked to discover that twin sisters Manar and Marwa, aged 17, have never stepped inside a school building. Their life possibilities are hampered by lack of education. But at the literacy classes, the girls are growing in confidence and their faith is being strengthened. Soon they will be
able to fill out a job application, read a medicine bottle, or do any number of basic tasks we take for granted. But most important, they will be able to turn to the Bible for comfort and strength no matter what happens in their lives. “That’s the joy of this project,” says Scott. “It solves illiteracy and strengthens Christians to have a much-needed presence in this nation.” Today, Christians in Egypt feel under pressure. They long to draw comfort from the Bible – but four million of them can’t read it. Poverty drives many to leave school early without being functionally literate. There are several reasons for this: classrooms can be packed with up to 100 children, teachers
Twins Manar and Marwa never went to school but are now learning to read and write.
Teachers see children’s behaviour improve as they engage in the lessons.
could teach three people like Faiza to read, and equip them each with a Bible.
provides Scripturebased materials to help eight Egyptian children apply God’s message in their lives.
contributes to setting up a literacy class and providing a Bible for each student.
are underpaid and children are drilled to learn by rote rather than interaction. As well, written Arabic is complex – it would be like us trying to read Medieval English. Bible Society’s catch-up literacy classes have helped thousands of Egyptians to read and provided them with a Bible. What makes the classes so special is that students are encouraged to think for themselves. They’re taught to ask questions about the Bible and apply its message to their lives. Numbers of people attending
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classes have halved in recent years because of nervousness about gathering in groups amid current tensions. But despite the risks, Christians long to read God’s word. Our vision is to teach at least 60,000 people to read by 2020, and provide each of them with a Bible. In another poor area, Scott visits a church where he finds a class of about 20 women in a white-tiled room. Faiza, at right, married at 14 and
Please call 1300 Bibles (1300 242 537) or visit biblesociety.org.au/ sowegypt 6
never went to school. Instead she devoted herself to raising her six children, but without being able to read the Bible she felt “like dry land. I need the Bible to comfort me when I struggle, when I’m in need, when I’m in trouble. I need to know the Bible to help me to survive in this life. When I saw people open their Bibles and prayer books and able to read, I used to cry. And now .. letter reading makes me very happy. It’s a kind of freedom.”
love the summer time. There’s warmth and light, the joy of Christmas, holidays, and rest. I never want it to end. Spiritual summers are a bit the same. These are the days when are hearts are full and our souls are at one with God. It seems that God is providing for us abundantly – not just materially but in our health, our relationships, our work and our purpose. We love God and we know we are deeply loved by him. We feel his presence. Summer seasons of the heart and soul are wonderful and joyful. They are “a time to dance.” Philippians (3:1, 4:4) says: Finally,
my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! ... Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! What can we learn from summer seasons? Can’t we just enjoy them? Yes – Scripture is full of descriptions of joy. But we can be seduced and lose sight of where the goodness comes from. That’s what happened to King Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes. As Israel continues to prosper, he becomes arrogant and complacent about where blessing comes from and the way in which it is to be used and he turns his heart away from God. Ultimately, it results in a spectacular downfall –
In summer, drink often not just for him but for his people. Author Mark Buchanan has this warning: “In summer, drink often. We can become so accustomed to the bounty of God that we grow indifferent about seeking his gifts. The lake ... is so refreshing we fail to notice that the river that feeds it has dwindled to a trickle.” So in the most joyful seasons of life we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously but we should take God seriously. The discipline of gratefulness and 15 minutes or so with God every day is the best antidote to summer complacency. Melissa Lipsett, COO, Bible Society Australia
‘My pain is gone’
hen doctors at La Mascota Children’s Hospital in Nicaragua told Leticia Jarquin her nine-yearold son had brain cancer, she fled from the hospital in fear. Thinking she was doing the right thing, she went home with her son, Elyin Herrera, pictured above. But when hospital authorities visited her home and warned her she would face criminal charges for refusing to let him have treatment, she allowed him to return to the only hospital in the country to treat children’s cancer. As Elyin had his treatment,
volunteers from the Nicaraguan Bible Society provided them with spiritual, emotional, and moral support through a programme called Hope and Smiles for Children with Cancer. This programme not only provides free Bibles and Scripture portions to kids with cancer and their parents and medical personnel but also trains pastors and volunteers to lead devotionals to strengthen their faith and find God’s peace. Because many families have to travel far from their home to receive treatment, the project also
provides material support, such as paying for children and their relatives to visit their home by public transport and subsidised medicines after discharge. When volunteers arrived for a follow-up meeting with Leticia and Elyin, they were surprised to find that he had finished his treatment and was in the hospital hostel under medical supervision. As they arrived, Elyin told them he had been looking out for them. “I no longer have pain and I’m very happy at the hostel, because I can play with all the children that pass by and we have fun playing
thank all of you who are praying for each child in this hospital. God has been good because it allows us to be reached by his word, which is life itself and is effective upon our lives.” In 2017, the project is giving nearly 8000 Bibles to children, and their parents, 360 to pastors and volunteers and 125 Bibles to hospital staff. In addition, more than 32,000 Bible portions will be given to outpatient children. Bible Society of Nicaragua also plans to train 360 pastors and volunteers this year to lead devotionals and provide spiritual care. “This has been very powerful for us to see how families are able to know what the word can do, that is in their hands and not in our hands,” comments Project Manager, Rebeca Alfaro Pauthz. Nicaragua will be the country we will be supporting through next year’s Get The Word Out group fundraising campaign. Maybe you can start thinking about the sorts of events you might run to support children and their families suffering from cancer. If you’d like to download materials so that your church or community group can fundraise together, please visit biblesociety.org.au/gtwo18
Flickr / Tim Shields
different games,” Elyin said. “I have travelled home – I missed my family and friends. I felt like I was living my life again. When I was in the hospital, I was suffering because the medication hurt me, but I learned to give thanks to God. He took care of me and now I’m resting from all the pain I lived.” Leticia also expressed gratitude for the Bible Society volunteers who had accompanied them through the most difficult times. “During these times, the Bible given to us became our source of strength and as I read through the text, I empathised with the life of Job ... going through this experience with my own son, I now understand the great love God has for us – especially for the life of my son. The verse that impacted me the most is Job 42:5: ‘My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you’. “I thought I made the right decision avoiding my son’s treatment – I really thought it was good for him. Now, being readmitted to the hospital, he is healthy but, more importantly, he met God in his heart and is now enjoying a life in Christ. We shared together a miraculous healing. We would like to thank every donor,
Please call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537), use the donation form on the back page or visit biblesociety.org.au/ sownicaragua
‘Beautiful and irresistible’
s Christmas approaches, you may like to buy a special pack of Christmas cards Bible Society has produced featuring five beautiful designs taken from our award-winning book, Our Mob, God’s Story. Our Mob, God’s Story is an art book with a difference. It contains more than 115 artworks by 66 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from the city and the bush, telling stories of the
wonderful things God has done for their people. When naming the book the Annual Australian Christian book of the Year, the judges called it “beautiful, confident and irresistible.” They said the artists: “paint in a dazzling variety of styles and write with uncommon wisdom and generosity. These artists share their vision of Jesus in order to bring us together as brothers and sisters.”
As well, there is a sturdy collapsible umbrella lined with a reproduction of special painting created by artist Max Conlon to celebrate the Bicentenary of Bible Society Australia. Our Mob God’s Story is $49.99, the umbrella is $39.99 while the Christmas cards are $12.99 a pack. All profits will go to Bible Society’s Indigenous Bible projects. To order, call 1300 139 179 or visit bibleshop.org.au.
Scriptures during the East Timor crisis
anuary 1st 2000 was no ordinary Sunday for the Christian communities of East Timor, now the independent nation of Timor-Leste. Amid the horror and tragedy of violence and war, Australian Defence Force Chaplains, led by Army Chaplain Len Eacott, delivered to the churches precious cartons of Bible Societyâ€™s new Gospel of Luke in the local Tetun Dili language. East Timor had been a Portuguese colony since the 16th century and had become essentially a Christian nation. Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. Five Australian journalists were killed in the hostilities. For the next quarter-century, the local Tetun Dili language was suppressed during a brutal era of violence and death in which as many as a 20 per cent of the population perished. The world ignored the violence in East Timor, thereby lending tacit approval to the oppression and bloodshed. However, in 1991, TV footage of the Dili Massacre was smuggled out of East Timor and world opinion began to turn. In 1993, quietly-spoken Carlos Belo was appointed Catholic
Bishop Belo with Len Eacott and children at a temporary church in Dili.
Bishop of the Diocese of Dili. The Indonesian authorities approved this choice under the impression that he would be submissive. For this same reason, his appointment was criticised by pro-independence clergy in his Diocese. Bishop Belo was to surprise all of them. He condemned the occupation of East Timor from the pulpit, petitioned the UN, the Pope and world leaders, and hid revolutionaries in his own home. Along with JosĂŠ Ramos-Horta, he became a spokesperson for the struggling people of East Timor. In 1996, the two men were jointly
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bishop Belo was East Timorese by birth and Tetun Dili was his mother tongue. He wanted to end the domination of the Indonesian language and reinstate Tetun Dili as the national language. In particular, he wanted to see the Bible in Tetun Dili. Christianity had been brought to East Timor by the Portuguese and many Portuguese words formed part of the Christian vocabulary. Belo and Christians like him did not want to express their Christian faith in Indonesian, the language of their Muslim overlords. Bishop Belo assigned some of
his scholarly priests to translate the Bible. By 1999 they completed the Gospel of Luke. The Josephite Sisters, St Mary MacKillop’s Australian order, were serving in East Timor and they managed to get the precious manuscript to Australia. They requested the Bible Society to publish it. Rev Dr John Harris was Director of Translation at the time and he agreed to have the translation checked and published. The whole operation was “top secret”. The Bible Society board quietly ruled that John could go ahead provided the project was not publicised and that funds were not allocated to it in any directly identifiable manner but absorbed into general expenses. With the help of Tetun Dili expert, Dr Geoffrey Hull, John was able to check the manuscript. Meanwhile, political change was escalating in East Timor. The UN had managed to organise a referendum in which the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia. This served only to inflame further violence until, in late 1999, Indonesia finally agreed to allow the formation of an international peacekeeping force (INTERFET). The force was led by
Australia with more than 4000 Defence Force personnel. Late in 1999, the little Gospel of Luke, Evanjellu Saun Lukas nian, was printed, the costs being covered by the Translation Department’s carefully enlarged budget. The gospels were still “top secret” and during this tense time, there were no normal channels through which to send the books to churches in East Timor. John thought of the Army chaplains. He was able to contact his friend, Len Eacott, who was able to organise for the cartons of gospels to be transported to east Timor by the Australian Army. So it was that early in 2000, a New Year’s gift arrived for the Christians of East Timor. Defence Force Chaplains personally Mother and daughter with the Tetun Dili Gospel.
delivered the cartons to Catholic and Protestant churches in and around Dili. Cartons were flown by Blackhawk helicopter to the remote Christian enclave of Oecussi. The little gospels were received with great joy. That was all 17 years ago and in the wider sweep of history it may seem a small thing. But at the time it was a wonderful gesture. The word of God came to a disheartened people and spoke to them of Jesus in the language of their hearts. Len Eacott went on to become Bishop of the Defence Forces. Bishop Belo declined an invitation to be nominated as President of Timor-Leste. Deeply affected by the struggle, he gave his life to being a Salesian Society missionary in Mozambique. Rev Dr John Harris Bible Society is working towards an interconfessional Bible translation project and accompanying literacy project in TImor-Leste. It will offer the opportunity to gather the Catholic and Protestant churches around a single modern translation of both the Old Testament and a revision of the New Testament.
‘God is here with me!’
eading the Bible in her own language for the first time brought a smile to the face of Huong*, an elderly woman of the Tay tribe in the mountains of North Vietnam. “It sounds like it is me! I want to be a part of my people having this joy too,” enthuses Huong.
The Tay worship many gods and their religious practice includes ancestor worship and animism. When Huong first became a Christian, she was scared of what her new faith might cost her; she even worried she might go to prison. But when she heard Bible stories from a
newly completed New Testament in her native language, she understood and was at peace. “The God of the Bible is better. He is the real Creator. I honour him and not blame him for the things that happen,” she says. “The Tay god is not very close to his people – not like this God, who is very
close to me. He is not just in the heavens – he is here! “I’m so happy now for our Tay people – I am happy for those who can read. I am old but I still know Christ. Now many Tay can know him too.” Christians in Vietnam have been trying to preach the gospel to
three ethnic minorities in North Vietnam – the Tay, Nung and Muong people; however, their efforts have been hampered by the lack of Scriptures in their native languages. United Bible Societies’ Vietnam Partnership Programme is translating and publishing the Bible in these languages to help Christians in these groups make and grow disciples. The Tay New Testament was published with a dedication in mid-2017. Work is progressing well on the Tay Old Testament, with the completion of first drafts of four books. The Nung New Testament will be published at the end of 2017. The first draft of the Muong New Testament was finished in 2016, and is now being reviewed and checked. The aim is to publish it next year. The Muong people live in the mountainous slopes of Central North Vietnam. In general, they are animists, worshipping ancestral spirits and other supernatural deities. However,
with the introduction of modern medicine, belief in traditional superstitions has declined. The Bible will become the main literature resource for these communities, as very few books are available in these languages. “Since I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour, my life, thinking and beliefs have changed and I have been released from all my anxieties, fear, loneliness, hopelessness and frustration. My dream and desire is that everyone will come to know the Creator and worship him, especially among the Muong tribe,” says Bui*, a Muong translator. * Names changed for security reasons.
Please call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537), use the donation form on the back page or visit biblesociety.org.au/sowvietnam 15
Freedom from shame and fear
n Pakistan, it is considered shameful if a woman can’t sign her marriage certificate but has to use her thumb print, says Miss Robab, who learned to read as an adult through your support of the women’s literacy programme of Pakistan Bible Society. Now a literacy teacher, Miss Robab makes it a priority to teach her students how to spell their names and write their signatures. “I was illiterate about three years back and God provided me an opportunity, through Pakistan Bible Society, to learn reading and writing,” she writes. “I was really fond of studies but my parents could not afford to send me to school, which was about 2.5km from our home. When a [literacy] centre was started in my area I joined it. Our teacher was so kind and she paid full attention to help us in learning. I worked hard and learned the books before the target time. “After completing the literacy classes, our priest sent me to join the special classes which were
arranged for the adults in the city church for one month. I learned and God provided me opportunity to teach others after two years.” Miss Robab has another, very important, goal in teaching women to read. “In the homes of the villages, many untrained evangelists and so-called pastors visit and teach heresy, evil spirits and demons which frustrate and destroy many families,” she explains. “I encouraged them to not listen to them or even to allow them to enter in their homes. I teach the students that God’s power is greater than other forces. We believe in God and there will be no bad spirits and demons who can harm you.” Through the women’s literacy classes in her area, she also tries to relieve those in her community from depression and inferiority complexes. “I am thankful to God that my efforts are bringing fruit slowly, slowly, and one day there will be no frustration and destruction among the families in our area.”
Spirit on the move in South Sudan
he spirit of God is moving among the Shilluk people in South Sudan as a result of literacy schools opened in UNprotected camps in Juba, thanks to your donations! Edward Kajivora, CEO of Bible Society South Sudan, believes there is a great change in the attitude and behaviour of the Shilluk thanks to the literacy schools. “In Juba, the Buluk Church (interdenominational) has registered high attendance and even an increase in Sunday service tithes. Before the literacy school, people gave little money to the church during Sunday service,” he explains. This year, 15 literacy schools have been established in Juba, Malakal, Kodok and, recently, a POC (Protection of Civilian site) with three classes in each group. In July, after a crisis in Kodok, two literacy schools were closed, leaving 13 functioning schools. In Kodok and Malakal, men are encouraging their wives and daughters to go to literacy school, with the result that of the 459
students, 289 are female. “My general impression about this project is that, first, it brings more people to know God since this project is a biblically based project,” says Edward. “Secondly, it opens the minds of the Shilluk people and provides them with the ability to read the Scriptures in their own language. It is very amazing and even people from other faiths are joining the literacy school.” Bibles are being distributed in December for those who complete the course successfully. Edward says the literacy schools also act as a focal point for peace and reconciliation. “The Catholic and Presbyterian Churches in South Sudan are very happy and very much involved in moral and spiritual support for this project,” he writes. “The project is a catalyst and we have introduced Trauma Healing as extracurricular for students on Saturdays. All the students, especially in Juba, are enthusiastic.”
Weâ€™re halfway there
re you ever tempted to take your Bible for granted? Many of us may have multiple copies all over the house and some may be dogeared or tatty. But for a 43-yearold man who had been using, dealing and manufacturing drugs for his entire adult life, the gift of a brand-new Bible was a precious and life-changing moment. This man was in a totally broken state when he entered a programme that helps people of all ages break free from their addictions, Teen Challenge in South Australia. “However, when he was given his Bible, he said ‘she presented me with a brand-new Bible with larger writing so I could see it properly, as my eyesight is not good. It was brand new and unwrapped. It was so uplifting I will never forget being given this Bible for rest of my life.’” As the year began, we at Bible Society Australia launched a special appeal to support our Bicentenary goal to give away more than 100,000 Scriptures in 2017. We asked for $1 million to fulfil our special Bicentenary appeal for the mission at home – to equip chaplains with Scripture, provide Bibles for school Scripture classes, to advocate for the Bible in public forums and create
indigenous Scripture resources. The good news is that we are halfway towards our goal, meaning we can provide the Good Book in many of these areas of need. But unfortunately, we still have ground to make up if we are to meet the demand for Scripture resources to Christian ministries. Every day, ministry workers present the love of God in public schools, prisons, hospitals and other places where people are hurting, but they do not have enough Scriptures to give out. Testimonies from these chaplains are eloquent proof of how valuable these Bibles are. J, an inmate at a Victorian prison, said: “I can’t believe the change [reading the Bible] has made in my life, and my way of thinking.” “In so many places it says, ‘ask your loving Father.’ I never had a loving father to ask for anything, so this has been such an amazing journey,” commented inmate H. “I’m really getting to know who Jesus is. He is my friend,” N said. “A Bible is great company
for when I’m locked up on my own. Reading it makes the time fly away and I see words really jump off of the page, like Jesus is talking to me!” said P. A Christian mission group that reaches out to the poor and oppressed reported that one woman was so excited to receive a Bible that she kissed it! An Iranian woman said she read her Bible every night. “This same lady shared with us how, over Skype, she shared with her sister in Iran about Jesus. Now her sister and brother-in-law have also become followers of Jesus.” Jeannie Smith, chaplain at Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospitals, Sydney, notes the “hope, clarity and encouragement” that come across people’s faces when she shares Scriptural resources with them. “We wouldn’t have these resources if it wasn’t for the Bible Society grant and the generous gifts from your supporters ... “I cannot tell you how grateful we are to have these Scriptural resources. Thank you.”
Please call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537), use the donation form on the back page or visit biblesociety.org.au/sowhome 19
The power of the Spirit Thanks to a partnership between the Pitjantjatjara Bible Translation Project, Bible Society Australia and Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) 50 per cent of the Pitjantjatjara New Testament has been recorded over eight weeks. Two specialist recordists from FCBH travelled to Australia from Africa to conduct sessions with more 20 Pitjantjatjara speakers, each reading a different character. The readers were surprised at how much they received from the Lord by simply reading his word out loud. One woman was so touched by the Spirit that she started to weep and had to stop and pray before resuming the recording. Phase two will begin in the new year to complete the recording.
The beauty of the word The Nyoongar people of the south of Western Australia will soon have an audio recording of Luke’s Gospel, three years after the gospel was first published in that beautiful language. The recording is narrated by Tom Little, a Nyoongar man who was a key member of the translation team, along with Rev Dr John Harris, a Bible Society translation consultant and indigenous linguist. “It took us about 15 years as much of the grammar and spelling had to be ‘rediscovered’,” recalls Dr Harris. “Many of the wonderful Nyoongar people who took part in the translation have gone to be with God but their testimony lives on in this Gospel. I look back on that work with joy.”
Two men, one ride Keen cyclists and Bible Society supporters Chris Girvan, 64, left, and Paul Beckman, 58, right, completed a ten-day Bike for Bibles event from Chris’s front lawn in Shellharbour, south of Sydney, to Melbourne in September. Chris’s cousin, William Hood, was the support van driver as the pair covered 1200km over varied Alpine and coastal terrain. Chris organised the ride himself to celebrate Bible Society’s Bicentenary and Paul, from Brisbane, was happy to join him. Together they raised more than $7000. “It was very enjoyable company, we had great support and we achieved what we wanted to achieve,” says Chris. Paul adds: “The ride had much more of a personal feel to it. We made it up as we went along.”
Mr Eternity: one man, one word Almost every day for 35 years, Arthur Stace spent the early morning hours writing the word “Eternity” on the streets of Sydney. Now, for the first time, you can discover the real story behind the mysterious “Mr Eternity”. Mr Eternity – The Story of Arthur Stace is the long-awaited biography of a quintessential under-class battler whose life was transformed by God. The book has been written by award-winning Australian author Roy Williams in close consultation with Elizabeth Meyers, a former friend of Arthur Stace, and includes never-seen-before photos, letters and content that will surprise and intrigue. Mr Eternity – The Story of Arthur Stace is available now. For more information, go to mreternity.com.au
Prayer points Dec 2017-Mar 2018 December 10-16
Australia: Give thanks for several new directors of the Bible Society board who have taken the place of those who have retired. Please pray for the new board as they provide direction in 2018 and beyond. Americas: Please pray for all those hit by recent hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and fires. Pray for those grieving the loss of loved ones, homes and businesses. Pray for compassionate assistance, and for the peace of God to settle over the weather.
Australia – Centre for Public Christianity: Pray for wisdom and perseverance as the team films the final scenes of its documentary, For the Love of God, covering some of the best and worst aspects of Christian missions to Aboriginal people. Vanuatu: Please pray for the people of Ambae in Vanuatu, who have been relocated to different localities (Pentecost, Maevo, Santo, Efate) because of the volcano eruptions and emission of toxic gas. People are traumatized and in need of help. Pray for the power of the volcano to decrease, for evacuees and evacuation centres/host homes especially the vulnerable ones. Four people have died to date.
Australia - Publishing and Digital: Give thanks that Our Mob, God’s Story has sold many more copies than expected - which has meant more people have seen Bible stories told in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, and more money has been raised for Bible Translation than we dreamed of.
Cameroon: Please continue to pray for participants in Bible Society Cameroon’s Esther Project, which supports teen mothers and girls who are recovering from sexual abuse and exploitation. Pray for peace and healing, that the girls come to a personal relationship with Jesus and understand their worth.
December 31-January 6
Netherlands: Thank God for the new children’s digital programme, Bible Basics, with material to teach children from four to 12 years old. Pray that many children will come to know Christ and will grow in their Bible knowledge through its use. Australia – Remote & Indigenous Ministry Support: Give thanks for the recording of the Gospel of Luke in the Nyoongar language of Western Australia. Thank God also for the Gospel of Mark recorded in Arnhem Land languages, Wangurri & Dhaŋu’mi.
Australia - Publishing and Digital: Pray that the new book, Mr Eternity, the Story of Arthur Stace, telling the story of the man who chalked “Eternity” on streets around Sydney (and Melbourne), may continue to touch hearts with the gospel message. Myanmar: Please pray for an end to the Rohinga refugee crisis in Myanmar where tens of thousands have fled to Bangladesh with horrifying stories. Pray for a firm international response. Pray that Bible Society Myanmar may find a way to reach these people with the Good News of Jesus.
Portugal: Praise God for financial support raised to print 200,00 comic-style leaflets about the life of Jesus for use in schools. Thank God for the opportunity to train church leaders in engaging children with Games Days.
Egypt: Thank God for the recognition of Bible Society of Egypt for their discipleship work cited by UBS in giving the Bible Missionary of the Year Award to their general secretary, Ramez Atallah.
United States: Pray for Museum of the Bible, which opened in November in Washington, DC. Pray that visitors have an exciting encounter with the Bible. Sri Lanka: Please pray for the rebuilding of communities hit by heavy rain, landslides, floods, and loss of lives. Pray that God would show his love for the people in Sri Lanka in the midst of tragedy.
January 28-February 3
Nigeria: Praise God for the recent launch of the Tiv Revised Bible. Pray that the modern language, spelling harmonisation and various helps in the new Bible will assist Christians grow in faith. New Zealand: Please pray for those involved in prison ministry who are using a special edition of Gospel of Luke and new reader study book, which includes a popular story about Tarore, a Christian Maori girl. The study is being used in three prisons.
Israel: Pray for Bible Society staff as they produce and distribute new books for children about the gospel. Pray that the children who receive them will become faithful witnesses of the Lord in Israel. Laos: Give thanks for the recent Bible Days that included preaching, teaching and Bible contests for children. Pray also that the main projects of distribution and literacy will continue to grow.
Cambodia: Thank God for the Children Engagement Day held as part of the Bible month
programme, which provided fun opportunities for children to engage with the word of God. Taiwan: Thank God for the release of the Bible Land DVD in several languages such as English, Cantonese and Chinese. Pray that God will use these DVDs to draw people to faith in Christ.
Pakistan: Please give thanks for the recent Bible competition which involved about 900 students competing in Bible Reading and Memory Verses. Pray that they might continue to learn the Bible and grow strong in the faith. Malaysia: Please pray for the Holy Spirit to guide Translation Consultants and staff working on the Bau minority language translation and the Malaysian Formal translation.
February 25-March 3
Australia: Give thanks for the number of bequest gifts received recently, a great help in furthering the mission and ministry of Bible Society. India: Praise God for Scripture Engagement programmes among children, youth and adults being conducted in local churches.
Canada: Thank God for the work in making Godâ€™s word available in native Canadian languages, for Indigenous churches. Pray for the smooth progress of these translations, for wisdom and guidance for all staff who are working hard on translation. Northern Ireland: Pray for wisdom and discernment for the Bible Society in Northern Ireland who are about to start recruiting new board members. Pray that God will guide the right people to these positions. Pray too for opportunities for Bible Society to reach out to new audiences.
WED 20 Isa 48:10
THUR 7 Luke 1:46-49
FRI 8 Luke 1:50-56 SAT 9 Matt 1:18-19
DEC 10 – DEC 16
FRI 22 Luke 18:13KJV SAT 23
DEC 24 – DEC 30
SUN 10 Matt 1:20-25
MON 11 Luke 2:1-7
2 Tim 4:5
TUE 12 WED 13 THUR 14
Luke 2:8-14 Luke 2:15-18,20 Matt 2:1-6
FRI 15 Matt 2:7-12 SAT 16 Luke 2:19
Join us as we explore passages about the arrival of Jesus. The news of Jesus’ birth was neither comfortable nor convenient. Every person who received news of his arrival had to prepare him room in some way or another. The same is required of us today. The question is: how will our lives be changed by doing so?
TUE 26 WED 27 THUR 28
THUR 4 Psa 137 FRI 5 John 3:1-5 SAT 6
JAN 7 – JAN 13
FRI 29 Rom 6:9-11
Arthur Stace (1885-1967) was one of the most extraordinary Australian Christians who ever lived. Stace spent hours writing a single-word sermon – Eternity – on and around the streets of Sydney in chalk or crayon. Join us to explore 14 verses from Scripture that capture the essence of his remarkable life – including some of his personal favourites.
Hard-headed Woman Elvis Presley Touch the Hem of His Garment Sam Cooke Turn! Turn! Turn! The Byrds Sympathy for the Devil The Rolling Stone Rivers of Babylon Boney M Word on a Wing David Bowie City of Refuge Nick Cave
SAT 30 1 Cor 3:13-15
WED 6 Luke 1:39-45
1 John 3:17
TUE 5 Luke 1:34-38
SUN 17 Job 5:7KJV MON 18
DEC 31 – JAN 6
SUN 3 Luke 1:26-28 MON 4 Luke 1:29-33
DEC 17 - 23
SUN 7 MON 8
1 Thes 5:1-11 Exo 5:1-5
DEC 3 – DEC 9
By Greg Clarke
By Roy Williams
By Laurel Moffatt
The Bible in the Charts
Born is the King
All You Zombies The Hooters Creeping Death Metallica What if God Was One of Us? Joan Osborne Yahweh U2 Samson Regina Spektor Judas Lady Gaga Adam and Eve Kasey Chambers
Come on a journey through seven decades of rock music, as Greg Clarke looks at an unexpected selection of songs influenced by Bible passages.
¯\_(“)_/¯ It’s not easy (it wasn’t meant to be)
By Tom Killinbeck
Week Seven JAN 14 – JAN 20 SUN 14
1 Kings 19:1-3
MON 15 Job 2:7-9 TUE 16
WED 17 Ps 6:1-3 THUR 18 John 10:10a FRI 19 SAT 20
John 3:16 Acts 8:32-33
Exceptional Bible Characters
By Melissa Lipsett
By Karen Mudge
JAN 28 – FEB 3 SUN 28 Gen 6:9. 13-14, 22
God in Ordinary, Everyday Life
By Samantha Freestone
FEB 11 – FEB 17 SUN 11
Week Thirteen FEB 25 – MAR 3
SUN 25 John 15:5
TUE 27 Phil 3:20
WED 31 Num 12:6-8
WED 28 Prov 2:1-5
THUR 1 Josh 1:5-8
MON 29 Gen 21:1-3, 6 TUE 30 Gen 45:4-5, 7-8
FRI 2 Num 14:24 SAT 3 Josh 2:8-9, 11-12
Week Twelve FEB 18 – FEB 24
MON 26 Ps 19:7-9
THUR 1 Ps 34:6 FRI 2 Matt 7:11 SAT 3 1 Pet 4:10
JAN 21 – JAN 27
FEB 4 – FEB 10
SUN 21 Phil 2:7b-8
SUN 4 Ruth 3:11-13
SUN 4 Isa 41:10
MON 5 Ruth 2:10-12
MON 5 2 Tim 3:16-17
TUE 6 Ps 51:10-12
MON 22 TUE 23
John 3:17 John 10:10b
WED 24 2 Tim 1:6-7
WED 7 Jer 1:4-8
THUR 22 Luke 23:46-49
MAR 4 – MAR 10
TUE 6 James 1:22-24 WED 7 Rom 8:1-2
THUR 8 Esth 4:14-16
FRI 9 Dan 6:10
FRI 23 Isa 41:10
FRI 9 Ps 32:8
SAT 10 Neh 2:17-18
SAT 24 Rev 21:3
SAT 10 Gal 1:10
SAT 27 Ps 27:3
It seems we love the idea that things should be easy, simple, strugglefree, that somehow if this were the case, we’d be better people, better followers of Christ. This isn’t the experience of God’s people through the ages – how did they cope? How have they seen overwhelming odds turn into victory?
There are so many characters in Scripture who stand out as “superheroes’’ for one reason or the other. Yet often it is their weaknesses which resonate with us and set an example for us to learn from. “Superhero” moments and “human” moments, taken together with the way God uses them, strengthen our faith and trust in God.
I believe we need to learn the biblical lessons of lament because in this world “we will have trouble.” Jesus said it would be that way, that all of life is not joy and it’s likely that at some stage we are going to experience deep pain. Lament is an appropriate and wise response and in this, the book of Psalms can help us.
THUR 8 John 8:12
How many times have you wondered: “Where is God?” The great news is that he reveals himself in our ordinary, everyday lives. We are just very good at missing him.
Bible Societies around the world
Breaking the barrier Until recently, Nigeria’s one million Deaf people had no access to the Bible in their mother tongue – Nigerian Sign Language (NSL). Today they have more than 100 Bible stories as part of a project to translate the Bible into NSL. Okhaide Monite, 35, above right, who lost his hearing at age five, says: “I can now understand God better because this is in my heart language. It will help strengthen my relationship with him.”
The next generation A new informal translation of Te Paipera Tapu (the Holy Bible in Māori) is under way with the Gospel of Luke, two epistles, Jonah, Genesis and Ruth completed in modern Te Reo Māori. New Zealand Bible Society’s Brenda Crooks (above) says the current 1952 version uses very formal language, akin to the King James Version. The new Bible will be more accessible to young Māori second-language speakers.
Thinking of the future Saio Bangura, aged nine, pictured above centre, and his friends are among thousands of people who lost everything when a mudslide engulfed their homes. But they were delighted to receive school materials including backpacks from the Bible Society in Sierra Leone, which distributed humanitarian aid and Scriptures to hundreds of people sheltering in Juba Barracks to the west of the capital city, Freetown.
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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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Published on Oct 26, 2017