Riches for the Least of Them

The American Bible Society joins forces with The Salvation Army

Photo by David Singer

The results of a growing partnership between the American Bible Society (ABS) and the Salvation Army make for really good news. The Bible Society is supplying the Army’s “foot soldiers” with Scripture resources for a full range of problems that bring life change to those wrestling with poverty.

Mission: Literacy

Failing schools, chaotic home environments and families in which English is not the primary language undermine the literacy skills of impoverished urban youth. Years ago ABS saw an opportunity to use Bible stories as the core of a new literacy curriculum. Experts worked with the Bank Street College of Education to make Mission: Literacy a reality. A three-level series of booklets, each consisting of 30 Bible stories, helped to significantly enhance the reading skills of children and adults.

Dawn Sharp, an educator and consultant for The Salvation Army’s New Jersey Division, says, “Mission: Literacy perfectly matches the dual mission of The Salvation Army: to minister to the body by providing social services and to minister to the soul by introducing people to Jesus Christ.”

The Bible Society also promotes Bible literacy for kids from poor urban neighborhoods who attend Salvation Army summer camps. Each child is given a knapsack filled with school supplies and a Contemporary English Version Bible from the Bible Society.

“As a young kid I can remember my nervousness each year, facing the first day of school,” says Mr. Patrick Patey, representing the Dallas-Fort Worth Salvation Army. “These kids face the same anxiety, but without having proper supplies.”

Christmas Compassion

Maritza Reyes, a mother of four who also cares for her sister’s daughters, was overjoyed to receive a Bible for Christmas. The gift came from the Angel Tree program (not to be confused with the Prison Fellowship program of the same name), which brightens the holidays for struggling families. Churches and welfare agencies identify recipients, and volunteers visit their homes to assess the needs of the young children. A paper angel for each child is then hung in an area shopping mall for donors to “adopt.” In all, 300,000 gifts were donated.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, thousands of volunteers distributed Angel Tree gifts to 49,000 poverty-stricken children from 15,000 families. The American Bible Society was pleased to add Spanish and English Bibles to donations of toys, clothes and grocery vouchers. “The gifts will put smiles on my childrens’ faces,” says Carmen Correas, a mother whose husband is in jail.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, ABS rushed 5,000 copies of the Scripture Portion “God Is Our Shelter and Strength” to Salvation Army soldiers working along the Gulf Coast. In the years since, the Bible Society has provided an additional 6,000 of these Portions. In anticipation of the need for quick response to future emergencies, additional copies of the Scripture booklets are en route for storage with other emergency supplies.

Serving the Poor

The Bible Society donates Scriptures for other Salvation Army outreaches as well. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Command distributed 17,000 ABS English/Spanish New Testaments this past year to people enrolled in substance abuse programs, homeless shelters and women taking refuge from domestic violence.

Chaplain Bella Carroll of the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center in Dallas says, “We give out 20 Bibles a month to people attending church services and Bible studies, but we could double that number if we had more.”

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

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