An Indiana megachurch is giving away its biggest Christmas Offering ever – more than $1 million – to help fund Bible translation projects in Asia.
Each year, College Park Church in Indianapolis holds a special collection the Sunday before Christmas to support a specific missions project in one of the neediest parts of the world. The most recent Christmas Offering, collected Dec. 22, is being donated to the world's largest scripture translation organization, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA.
"We're committed to the scriptures and believe that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so we feel the most important thing we can do for people around the world that don't have the Bible is to provide the scripture in their heart language," said Nate Irwin, College Park's pastor of global outreach.
The funds will be used to support Wycliffe's work in Asia, where there is a "tremendous need" for Bible translation, according to a press release. The money will fund a New Testament translation from start to finish, the training of native-language translators, the printing of scriptures and a wide variety of other projects.
"We are stunned, humbled and grateful by College Park Church members' generosity through the Christmas Offering," said Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe, in a statement. "We praise God for their partnership in bringing His Word to people who have never had the opportunity to hear it in their heart language. The church's contribution will accelerate progress toward the start of many Bible translation programs in one of the most difficult to reach areas of the world."
College Park, which is now attended by about 4,000 people each Sunday, first held a special Christmas Offering in 1986. In recent years, each of the special collections brought in about $600,000 on average, says Irwin, though the 2013 offering was the greatest the church has seen.
"We're definitely not trying to promote ourselves," said Irwin. "It's just something that God did and we're encouraged and excited about that, and if that can encourage other people then we're happy to let the word out."
The offering is also the largest one-time donation a single church has ever given the Bible translation organization, Wycliffe spokesperson Vicky Mixson told The Indianapolis Star.
Since Wycliffe was founded in 1942 it has played a role in the completion of more than 700 scripture translations. The organization, which is based in Orlando, Fla., is currently working in 97 countries around the world.