Shelter and Strength
Offering comfort from God's Word across the United States
You give them something to eat,” was Jesus’ response to his disciples’ suggestion that he send the hungry crowds away to find food. Jesus was acquainted with sacrifice for the sake of God’s kingdom; he understood the physical, as well as spiritual needs of the people he was teaching.
Through his actions, Jesus teaches the disciples the importance of giving both his good news and a good meal. Christians around the world still follow his example, and the American Bible Society is joining with like-minded partners to provide God’s loving care, as well as the gospel, in times of trouble.
While we rightly look with compassion on those struggling outside our national borders, there are also many in our own country who have a desperate need for food, shelter and strength. Where do we turn when our world falls apart? With vital help from the American Bible Society, ministries all over the United States are touching hurting and troubled lives.
Bible Society Responds
Imagine you arrive at a food distribution facility and begin to navigate your way around. But after some investigation, you find the lines for prayer are longer than those for water.
This is exactly what Delores Burnett, ABS mission manager for the hungry and destitute, saw on her recent visit to New Orleans. In this city where the effects of Hurricane Katrina linger, the Bible Society teamed with Convoy of Hope to help meet needs in the community. “Most of the prayers were to keep families together, find jobs and not become depressed,” she says.
Starting with the Word
Research shows that two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. The American Bible Society has pioneered literacy work for over 100 years, continuing with a partnership with the Salvation Army to provide a Bible-based literacy curriculum called Mission: Literacy. In cooperation with the Bank Street College of Education, ABS developed this 16-week literacy curriculum that has been proven to raise reading abilities significantly while exposing students to Bible stories and the Gospel of Christ.
Perhaps most important to the success of Mission: Literacy is the supportive mentoring part of the program. Each student belongs to a small reading group led by a trained volunteer. The leader not only provides individualized help with reading, but models a Christian witness as well. Enid Almanzar, ABS mission manager for at-risk children, says, “ABS has changed its approach from mere distribution to meaningful engagement. We’ve partnered with like-minded ministries to ensure mentoring and discipleship takes place so students can develop a lasting understanding and relationship with Christ.” As these students grow in their reading abilities, they grow in relationship and their walk with the Lord. The foundation of this relationship gives them strength to overcome the challenges they face.
After hearing a message at the WOW JAM, Timothy Bolden responded, “I should not be alive today. I survived a serious car accident without a scratch. I have done so many bad things to people and lived an angry life after my father abandoned me and my sisters. I want to change my life because I am tired of running from God. I want to get saved and tell him that I am sorry for the pain I have caused.” Timothy, from Houma, La., made a commitment to Christ and was baptized on the spot.
What happens when we’re gone?” asks Tonya Wilder- Butts, ABS mission manager for at-risk youth. Tonya works with WOW JAM International (Winning Our World International) to deliver the gospel to thousands of people each year. WOW JAM’s four to six hour urban evangelism events also provide practical helps that include free haircuts, bicycle repair, family photos, food and gifts for the children. With a desire for an outreach event, local churches invite WOW JAM to their neighborhoods. The day following the event, a baptism service is held at the local church. Family photos taken on that day are later delivered to the family by a pastor of the local church. In this way, ABS and WOW JAM are partnering to strengthen the local church’s efforts in reaching those who are hurting and looking for shelter in Christ.
Speaking Their Language
Elementz of Life™ is a Scripture tool with a specific audience in mind. “We know that traditional methods of outreach are not going to work with today’s young people” says Tonya. “We need something that speaks their language.” Using stories of people who have struggled and found shelter in Christ during difficult times, the contemporary magazine format of Elementz is a valuable tool that speak to the hearts of youth who find very little connection to church. This tool has helped bring people out of lifestyles that cause harm to themselves and others, and guides them into “the life that is really life.”
In prisons across the United States, God’s Word is making a difference through the ministry of the Bible Society. Drew Segawa, ABS mission manager for the incarcerated, relays one prisoner’s response to the Scripture’s impact in his life, “I feel as though there is a purpose in my life, and with God, I feel very protected. There are times when I turn and pick the Bible up and read and feel better.”
When our world falls apart, we can turn to the one source of true shelter and strength — God’s Word. The American Bible Society is partnering with likeminded organizations to address the whole person and guide them toward lasting comfort and peace.
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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