A Christian literature ministry is calling on believers in America not only to celebrate this Christmas without a Bible in hand, but also to clear their shelves of many of the Bibles they may have.
"If American Christians were willing to keep one family Bible and send the rest of their Bibles overseas, millions more people would be exposed to the life changing effects of God's Word," explains Fred Palmerton, executive director of Christian Resources International (CRI), in an announcement.
As for celebrating Christmas without a Bible, CRI is hoping that more American Christians will try to memorize Scripture and become more aware of the hardships encountered by believers overseas, many of which are without a Bible while the average U.S. Christian has about nine Bibles.
"Churches in the United States should try and conduct one worship service this Christmas the way that our brothers and sisters in the Third World regularly have to worship: without a Bible," says Palmerton. "Often, the only resource worshippers in developing countries have is their memory, or what they write down on scraps of paper after visiting a church that does have a Bible."
Every day, more than 122,000 people become Christians, according to CRI, and most are in Africa, Asia, and South America.
"They're attending churches where even the pastors have no Bibles," reports the ministry, which claims to receive more than 400 letters a month from pastors and Christian workers in developing countries requesting for their first Bible as their churches own no Bibles or Christian books.
The United States, meanwhile, has a much more impressive average number of Bibles per person.
This discrepancy is why CRI launched "Operation Bare Your Bookshelf," a project to make it easy for American Christians to send a Bible (and a Christian book or two) overseas.
To participate in the project, Christians just enter their name, address, and denomination in a form online and CRI will send them, at no cost, all the mailing materials they need to send a Bible to a specific pastor, Christian worker, church member, or seeker overseas.
"Because the mailing materials bear CRI's return address, you need not worry that you'll be personally contacted by anyone overseas," the ministry adds. "But CRI will personally pass on to you the thank you letters generated by the packages they send."
Denominations are requested on the form so that CRI can match participants with recipients who are members of a denomination most similar to theirs, ensuring that the material they send will actually be used in the recipient's church.
"Imagine what it would be like for your family to read the story of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke for the first time," Palmerton poses as Christmas approaches for many around the world.
While the package has a four-pound limit, participants are also encouraged to slip in a tract or other Christian book as space allows. CRI has included a list of suggestions on the types of books that are most needed aside from Bibles.
The ministry is inviting individuals, churches and groups to sign up for Operation Bare Your Bookshelf, and send the Christian books "that will bring tears of joy to someone's face and a lifetime of spiritual enrichment to an entire church full of people."
"Help Christians around the world get the books they desperately need," it urges.
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