To find a participating store near you, visit the Christian Stores Web site and type in your zip code. Many other Christian retailers are also participating in Operation Worship including Family Christian Stores, Mardel, Lifeway, Northwestern, and Berean stores as well as many independent Christian retailers.
Send Personalized Bibles to Our Troops
Couresty of Operation Worship
CBN.com This summer, an effort is underway to sign and send 100,000 Bibles to American troops in 100 days. Tens of thousands of people are expected to go to a local Christian bookstore, purchase a $4.99 camo-covered special edition Bible, write a personal message inside the front cover of the Bible, and give it back to the retailer to be shipped to an American soldier serving somewhere around the world.
While there have been other efforts to provide Bibles to soldiers, this is the first time that Bibles have been sent with personal messages inscribed by individual Americans, expressing their prayers and gratitude.
The need for Bibles among soldiers is still great according to Jeff Hilliard, founder of Operation Worship, a national ministry working to enrich the spiritual lives of military personnel. “Soldiers continue to ask for Bibles in the field,” Hilliard said.
In addition to providing lined note pages where Americans can write messages of encouragement to the soldiers, the special edition Bible (New Living Translation) published by Tyndale House Publishers includes warm words of thanks and support from retired Army Chaplain Steven R. Young, a brief introduction to the Bible for those who are encountering it for the first time, and a topical reference listing.
Hilliard, also known as the "Monkey Commando," recently discussed Operation Worship.
Why is it they call you the Monkey Commando?
About three years ago, being a bit of an out of the box guy anyway, I decided to go online and order a supercharged T-Shirt cannon so I could launch shirts into crowds of people at concerts. For the next few weeks after the launcher arrived, I would sneak out of the office for a few minutes each day just to "test fly" a few shirts, tennis balls, or whatever else I could find that would fit in the barrel.
A few weeks later, one of my good friends brought over a stuffed 34" monkey and said "try this in your cannon." I couldn't turn down a great challenge like that! When we taped up the monkey's arms and legs, the monkeys flew about 600 feet! I ended up ordering about 600 monkeys just before the Spirit West Coast festival in Monterey, California, and took all of the monkeys up on the stage and began launching them into the crowd. The crowd went crazy. In fact, the applause was louder for the monkey launcher than the headliners of the event!
And what exactly does launching stuffed monkeys into crowds have to do with Bibles for American Soldiers?
Soon after that event, a Lt. Colonel from the Army (CH Lt. COL Steve Young ARMY RETIRED) called me to ask if I could launch monkeys to crowds of kids at his military base in Monterey, Calif. From there we started getting involved in events at military bases all around the country.
When we were at Fort Polk, La., the chaplain there told me there was a shortage of Bibles in the war zone. He said that when they have a church service in the war zone, his experience was that as few as 10 percent of the soldiers have access to a Bible.
That caught my attention. I contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and requested enough Bibles for that base. The BGEA sent 6,500 Bibles and we took 1,500 with us to a concert event last August and asked people at the event to write a note to a soldier in the front of each Bible. They were all signed in one day! The response was so overwhelming we had the rest of the 6,500 Bibles shipped to us and over three days all 6,500 Bibles were signed. Those Bibles were deployed through numerous military chaplains and were gone within 15 days.
So how did you get connected to Tyndale?
When we ran out of those Bibles, I called Tyndale House because I knew the New Living Translation is an understandable translation and I was told that Tyndale has a real heart for ministry. I told them I wanted their help to create a camo-covered Bible that is 4 x 6 inches to make it fit inside a soldier’s pocket, all at a price that would be affordable for our foundation. I planned to go out and raise the money to buy the Bibles. But Tyndale came up with the idea of having Christian Retail stores purchase the Bibles at a very low cost so they can sell them for $5 each, have customers sign the Bibles, and then send the Bibles to us for distribution to solders via military chaplains.
What makes this distribution of Bibles different from some of the other efforts to send Bibles to American soldiers?
The main difference is that these Bibles are actually personally signed with a note of appreciation and encouragement from someone back home. Another important thing about these Bibles is that they are pocket-size but include both the Old and New Testament. There are many New Testaments that have been provided to soldiers that are not being used. The military chaplains have told us that the soldiers want the Old Testament where they can read about the land so many of them are serving in.
What kinds of things do you see people writing in the notes in the Bibles you’ve already sent?
It is an amazingly moving experience to watch people take a pen and sit down to write a message in the front of these Bibles. “Watch out for jihads and come back alive,” written by a small child was the cutest one I’ve seen. The most impactful was written by a 13-year old who had just come to Christ and wrote three handwritten pages about the impact God had had on his life. Most express a lot of gratitude—gratitude that we can be free people because of what they are doing and all they are sacrificing.
Do you find any resistance among people who do not support the war?
No matter what people think about the war, they are concerned about soldiers and their families. When we hand these Bibles out to people to sign, they are not focused on making a political statement. They realize this is something they can do to impact a real person serving in perhaps a very difficult situation.
Some people might think that it is too late to be sending Bibles to our troops. Is it?
No matter what happens in Iraq and how quickly we are able to wind down the U.S. presence there, there are 1.4 million American soldiers all around the world. The majority of soldiers are not in the current war zone in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while other organizations have sent Bibles and other spiritual resources to soldiers, military chaplains assure us there continues to be a great need.
How and when will the Bibles be put into the hands of American soldiers?
We are working with military chaplains through all branches of the military. So as we receive boxes of signed Bibles that are returned to us from Christian retail stores (go to www.chrsitianstores.org to find your closest participating Christian retailer), we will send those to military chaplains all over the globe and they will put them in the hands of soldiers.
We will also be sending Bibles to soldiers families around the world and at home. Soldiers will be able to go to our website, www.operationworship.com, and request that we send one to a family member back home and we’ll do that. My expectation is that we will far exceed the 100,000 in 100 days. If we get a half million Bibles, there are homes for every one of them.
Interview courtesy of Operation Worship.
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