It was a block party like no other. There was food, games and music and lots of opportunities for neighbours to interact. But MoveIn’s 5th Annual Block Party in Lowertown – one of Ottawa’s low-income neighbourhoods – was more than just a block party. In this party, God’s Word was the main feature.
More than 350 residents from various ages joined MoveIn’s block party, organized in partnership with local churches who provided volunteers and financial support. About 800 hotdogs were eaten along with watermelon, popcorn and other treats. Local Christian artists provided live music and a mime team presented the gospel. Residents also had the opportunity to listen to testimonies of God delivering people from drugs and violence. During the party, 150 Bibles in English, French and Arabic, provided by the Canadian Bible Society, were distributed; a great number of kids Bible tracts were also handed out. Volunteers shared the gospel with many neighbours and a number of people facing very difficult personal situations were able to connect with the MoveIn team and find practical help in the name of Jesus.
It was a joyous day for the Maliseet First Nation when a portion of God’s written Word was publicly launched in their language. On June 19, representatives of the Maliseet community in Fredericton, led by New Brunswick’s Lieutenant-Governor Graydon Nicholas, gathered to celebrate the Gospel of John in Maliseet.
“It’s a historical moment,” Graydon Nicholas said. “After so many years, 400 years of contact, to have a scriptural book written in our language, that is very significant for our people.” He added that this new publication will help to preserve what was once an endangered language.
Preparing the Gospel of John for publication in Maliseet took two years to complete. Canadian Bible Society (CBS) National Director Ted Seres shared that translating the Bible is a long and involved process. “It’s not like putting it into Google Translate and hitting a button,” said Rev. Seres. “It takes years of just trying to communicate the right words in the right language. If there was a demand for more in the Maliseet, I think that would be a project we would want to consider.”
Canadians have been asked about their Bible reading habits for years. In 2013, the Canadian Bible Forum, a group of nine Canadian Bible agencies together with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, engaged world-class market research company Angus Reid Strategies, led by Angus Reid, to undertake the Canadian Bible Engagement Study. The study results were so concerning that the Canadian Bible Forum member agencies have chosen to partner closely to take action to reverse the alarming trends.
More than 4,500 people across Canada were interviewed for the study, making the Canadian Bible Engagement Study the most recent comprehensive national study of its kind. The study revealed many details about Bible reading and engagement, with the overall finding being that most Canadians are not reading and are not interested in reading their Bible. Since 1996, weekly Bible reading has declined by 60 per cent and only 14 per cent of Canadians actually read the Bible at least once per month.
For most students in Canada, March break provides a respite from learning and time to enjoy the remaining few days of Winter. For Toronto City Mission, a Christian organization that reaches out to the youth in Toronto, it is an opportunity to share about Jesus and the Bible.
A representative for Toronto City Mission shared:
At our March Break camp this year, our students were excited about learning more about Jesus. Each day we taught them a Bible lesson to help them understand who Jesus is. On day one they learned that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. On day two, they learned that Jesus is the Cornerstone. On Day three they learned that Jesus is the Living Water. On day four they learned that Jesus is the Vine. And on day five they learned that Jesus is our Perfect Brother. Many of our students were learning these things about Jesus for the first time, and even though March Break is over, they are still talking about what they learned!
As Christmas approaches, many Bible Society partners are busy preparing hundreds of gift bags and baskets for distribution. For CBS partners, this is an opportunity to share the Gospel with those who are considered unchurched or coming from countries where religious restrictions are imposed. CBS partners with churches and Christian organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Jesus Network by providing Bibles or New Testaments to people who may not have a way of getting their own copy.
“Right now, our Christmas outreach is running full blast,” shared Jesus Network, which distributes about 500 gift baskets every year. “Each day 30-40 families get a Christmas basket! Pray for them that they would come to know Jesus!”
The gift basket contents vary; some have the Jesus Film DVD, toys, candies and groceries. But always, they come with a copy of the Bible or New Testament.
Hirut Alemayhu hid the fact that she was HIV-positive for years, even from her daughter. But today, she is a powerful force in the fight against HIV/AIDS in her local community, particularly focusing on pregnant women.
“My revenge against HIV is that I am using all my strength to stop new infections,” she says. “I use every opportunity to talk to people about HIV/AIDS but I am especially concerned about pregnant women. I seek them out and urge them to get tested. If they have HIV, I make sure they get the right treatment and advice so they don’t pass it onto their unborn children. At one point I had 360 women on my follow-up list and they gave birth to 359 HIV-free babies!”
The Canadian Bible Society (CBS), through partnership with various Christian organizations, is helping to reach the youth and children with God’s Word in summer camps. Some of the children who attend these camps are considered “unchurched” and the camps are where they learn about Jesus and the Bible for the first time.
One of CBS’ partners, Scripture Union Canada (SU), conducts summer sports camps in various communities across Ontario. Every year, they reach out to hundreds of children, coaching sports and teaching the Bible. CBS provides copies of God’s Game Plan which campers use during their Bible study time.
Two Bible Society bookshops in Egypt were burned and destroyed in a recent attack by Muslim fundamentalists in the two largest cities in Southern Egypt. The General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt, Ramez Attalah, sent the following report:
“I have just received the sad news of the complete burning and destruction of our Bible Society’s bookshops in Assiut and Minia. These were both very beautiful, fully equipped bookshops. Fortunately we were closed today, fearing such an attack, so none of our staff were injured. The attackers demolished the metal doors protecting the bookshops, broke the store windows behind them and set the bookshops on fire. They did the same to many stores on those streets as well as demolishing many parked cars.”
On August 24, 2013, a small group of Canadian Bible Society (CBS) supporters in British Columbia will run through the wilderness of Kinuseo Falls to help raise funds for She’s My Sister, a Bible-based trauma healing program for the women and children impacted by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
The group, led by Lisa Ramer, will run 48km through the wilderness of Kinuseo Falls in Monkman Provincial Park at the event they call Monkman Madness.
Lisa Ramer has participated in Bike for Bibles rides, an annual cycling event spearheaded by CBS. However, this year, she decided to raise funds for CBS by participating in another activity that she equally loves: running.
On July 4, 2013, the Canadian Bible Society and Grace Rwanda sponsored a dinner celebrating the end of the 100-day Rwandan genocide 19 years ago. More than 230 people came for the celebration which featured a traditional Rwandan dinner, dance and testimonies. A silent auction was also held, with proceeds going to She's My Sister, a bible-based trauma healing program in Rwanda.