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Seeds of Change

Bible Seeding spreads the Word

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“I almost missed this,” my friend said as we were distributing Chinese Bibles in Taiwan. Several days into our first Bible Seeding trip, my fellow short-term team member was overcome with emotion after several young people gave their lives to Christ.

Bible Seeding, a missions project developed at North Ridge Church of the C&MA in Raleigh, North Carolina, uses local church “talent” in partnership with Alliance workers to distribute native-language Scriptures around the world. One of the joys and privileges I have as team leader is watching the other team members “get it.”

“Missionary” is our Middle Name

Although North Ridge’s first Bible Seeding mission was in November 2001, the project really began the previous year. In March 2000, I visited Israel, where one of my favorite spots was the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I was reminded of how blessed we are to be able to petition our Lord wherever we are and know He hears us. I was haunted, however, by the hollowness I saw in the eyes of those beautiful people, eyes without the hope that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can provide.

On the trip home, I was pricked with guilt. As an adult in a denomination where “Missionary” is our middle name, I was not setting an example to our youth by serving on short-term missions trips. Instead, I watched, encouraged and supported their efforts.

Back at North Ridge, I asked Pastor Charlie Long (now retired) whether the reason we didn’t have short-term missions trips for adults was because no one “owned” the project. Then I shared that I thought God had charged me with that responsibility.

Out of this call and a previous vision Pastor Long had had while serving as a missionary in Southeast Asia, Bible Seeding was born. We spoke to staffmembers in the U.S. C&MA Short Term Missions Office, who suggested that we pilot three or four trips from our South Atlantic District, document them and then share the “how-to” details so others could send similar teams.

“Jesus Loves You”

Our first trip—to Taiwan in November 2001—was a faith stretcher, from raising enough money for the Bibles, travel, housing expenses and evangelistic outreach to traveling just two months after 9/11. The timing did not go unnoticed by the nationals, and many commented on the importance we placed on this trip in order to travel after such a tragedy. God blessed the team by allowing us to see more than 30 young people give their lives to Christ.

Church neighbors called us the “Jesus Loves You people” as we marched offeach day in yellow team shirts with “Jesus Loves You” written in Chinese on the pockets. In an open-air restaurant, Mr. Yao’s eyes filled with tears as he read our shirts. “My wife was a Jesus follower and prayed for me,” he said. “But she died 20 years ago.” He told us he was now ready to be a Jesus follower. We had the honor of participating with the Lord and Mrs. Yao as we prayed with her husband to receive Christ. It was 20 years on our calendar but only the blink of God’s eye.

A Unique Perspective

Jeff and Melissa Singfiel, now serving as Alliance workers in Kosovo, have a unique perspective of Bible Seeding. Jeff served as assistant pastor at North Ridge when Bible Seeding was developed. When our church made its third Bible Seeding trip in September 2004, the Singfiels were the missionaries who hosted our ministry.

Around the corner from where Jeffand Melissa lived in Gjilan, we were stopped by a Muslim shop owner who wanted to know why we were giving away books. “Our dear friends have moved to Gjilan,” I said, “and have quickly grown to love the people.” I explained that we wanted to share another love with them—God’s love revealed through Jesus and recorded in the Bible. “It is especially in the Book of John that I discovered just how much my God loves me and you,” I said as I opened a Bible to John 3:16.

The man invited the four of us (two Americans and two Kosovars) for coffee to talk more. Afterward, he stated that because he liked the way we shared our faith, he would read this book we gave him, starting with John.

Church members in Pristina, Kosovo, traveled to their daughter church in Gjilan every day, more than an hour’s drive each way, to help us distribute Bibles and assist with the outreach event. As we prepared to return to the United States, the people of the Pristina C&MA church tearfully begged us to come back with more Bibles because there were so many others who needed to learn of Jesus.

Adapt and Grow

Sometimes Bible Seeding trips don’t go as we had planned. In March 2006, we arrived in Antofagasta, Chile, on Saturday, but the Bibles didn’t. On Monday, we discovered that the Bible order had never gotten past our contact in Miami. With guidance from the national church, we ordered Bibles locally, but the shipment wouldn’t arrive until Thursday afternoon; we were scheduled to leave the following Sunday.

How would we pass out 5,000 Bibles in 24 hours? God once again stretched our faith. Team members distributed the Scriptures at the outreach event Friday night, Saturday morning in the market areas and that evening in the neighborhood around the church. By the time we left, all the Bibles were gone.

But the bigger blessing was at the Saturday evening celebration with members of the national church. The leaders said Bible Seeding was something they wanted to continue to do after we returned to the United States. I believe the greatest lesson we learned on the Chile trip was that the task of distributing Bibles is not nearly as important as the relationships developed with the national church.

Bible Seeding team members on our 2003 trip to Granada, Spain, shared that they had previously thought it would be just as valuable to send money to the field rather than use it for missions trips. But after seeing all that the missionaries are responsible for in the course of their day, Bible Seeders have a new appreciation for the necessity of short-term teams.

This month, a team will head for West Africa on the fifth Bible Seeding trip sponsored by North Ridge Church. The team will work with an Alliance worker couple as they open a ministry center for professionals and university students in a major city.

We anticipate meeting new friends, learning new lessons and stretching our faith as much as God will allow. Please join us in prayer as we seek God’s leading for future ministry. And then consider what your part might be in your own Bible Seeding missions trip.

For further information about Bible Seeding, contact North Ridge Church of the C&MA, Raleigh, N.C., at 919-847-1929 or office@northridgecma.org.

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