NEW YORK From sun up to sun down, people on Broadway are getting a taste of Scripture with hundreds reading the big book cover to cover. The Bible Read-a-Thon foreruns American Bible Society's 190th birthday in a 90-hour exemplifier of the ministry's very purpose - Scripture engagement.
Over 400 individuals from churches, radio programs and the general public have signed up to read excerpts of the Word outside the Bible House. With a tent propped up, a platform set and loudspeakers facing the thousands of passers-by and busy traffic on the streets, Bible on Broadway have stopped onlookers and families in their track to hear Scripture.
As some shouted "Amen" in a quick passing of the read-a-thon stage, others sat down on lunch boxes to take their break consuming both food and God's Word. A family of four from Florida called in to get their chance in the Bible reading along with one student who has returned everyday since its kick-off on Monday to participate, according to American Bible Society's senior manager of media relations, Roy Lloyd.
The American Bible Society held its first Bible marathon in 1995 when the Contemporary English Version was completed. This time, ABS has integrated various languages and engaged churches which have helped form audiences to draw more from the public to stand by and listen. Free Good News Translation New Testaments in both English and Spanish are being distributed to pedestrians and even to those watching from their cars or taxis when stopped at the traffic signal.
"The idea is that there are so many people who have never ever heard the Word of God," said the Rev. Thomas R. May, director of Church Relations for ABS. "God's word does not return void. We're trying to give people a taste."
So far, readings have been conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Russian and Ukrainian. Such diversity has drawn many to hear the Bible in their heart language. And on Thursday, individuals read in the Swahili language along with a local church that read in Romanian accompanied by a cellist.
During this week's anniversary event, ABS is also announcing its dedication to fulfill the commission of having virtually every man, woman and child to hear the Gospel, according to ABS President and CEO the Rev. Dr. Paul G. Irwin. It's a commitment for the next 10 years until their 200th anniversary.
"What the American Bible Society is committed to is following Jesus' command of preaching, teaching and baptizing people," said Irwin, who further stressed their aim to reach all the people of the world in the next decade.
As of Wednesday early afternoon, participants were reading from the book of Nehemiah. The Bible Read-a-Thon is expected to reach the New Testament Friday.