Scripture in High Demand by Troops in Afghanistan, Says Ministry

Most of the requests for the military version of a popular audio Bible on an MP3 stick is coming from Afghanistan, said a spokesperson for a ministry's Military BibleStick project on Wednesday.

Afghanistan is where the U.S. military has the most personnel, about 100,000 troops currently.

"We have a lot of chaplains that are getting deployed to Afghanistan through the surge and they see what happens when the troops get the Bible," said Jon Wilke, spokesman for the Military BibleStick project at Faith Comes By Hearing, the world's largest audio Bible ministry.

Wilke, who served in the U.S. military for seven years, noted that some of the chaplains requesting the BibleSticks are serving units "in deep" and on the frontlines of combat. He shared about the "Darkhorse" marine battalion in Afghanistan that recently lost nine marines in four days. The chaplain of that battalion had requested BibleSticks before that tragic week.

"If we can help these young men and women be grounded in the Bible, then God will help them fight off depression and walk through these difficult times," Wilke told The Christian Post. "And God will help them cope with losses in combat. We as a ministry need to be there to provide them with a Bible when they need it."

Among the biggest problems in the military today are suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, the former marine noted.

Wilke shared a story of an army sergeant who was on suicide watch, or given the responsibility to keep a suicidal soldier alive. The sergeant listened to the BibleStick everyday during his time with the suicidal soldier and was able to comfort him using what he had heard on the audio Bible. In the end, the soldier was returned to the United States alive.

Since the project began in 2008, Faith Comes By Hearing has provided chaplains with more than 70,000 BibleSticks. The BibleSticks are slim digital audio players, about the size of a pack of gum, which are pre-loaded with the entire New Testament.

In the month of October alone, there have been requests for over 20,000 BibleSticks, which is about $500,000-worth of resources. Wilke said the ministry is able to fulfill about half those requests at the moment.

FCBH does not charge the chaplains for the BibleSticks, which are $25 each, but raises the money through its donors, churches, and Christian radio stations.

Requests for the military audio Bible have been "through the roof" lately as word of mouth promotion spread among chaplains, and now even soldiers. The BibleSticks are used by chaplains as a resource they can offer soldiers that request a Bible or Christian spiritual guidance.

"When you are deployed, you live in cramped quarters and you don't have any private time really because everywhere you go you are surrounded by a bunch of other people," said Wilke. "As a former marine and a guy who has been on many deployments, it would be nice to have something to put in your ears and close your eyes and you can distance yourself from what is going on around you."

The BibleStick puts the Scripture in a format that is comfortable for the young generation, which do not read much, noted Wilke. He said he never saw his fellow troops walking around reading anything, other than an ESPN magazine, but they always listened or watched something.

"They are very audio-visual," said Wilke, who left the military in 2004. "And so having a Bible in that format is one of the best ways to communicate with this generation because they just don't read like the generations in the past."

Other countries where the BibleSticks are sent to include: Iraq, Kuwait, and Kosovo.

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