Century-old Bibles find a new home
Antique Bibles reveal lifetime of God’s faithfulness
WINNIPEG, MB—A treasure-trove of Bibles from the late 1800s has found a home with Give the Word ministries. The rapidly-growing organization founded last year by Ryan Rempel provides free Bibles to anyone who needs them.
However, it was Rempel himself who recently received Bibles containing a wealth of history.
“A guy calls us out of the blue and says, ‘I saw your article in ChristianWeek and had a nudge to give you a call, can I come down and see you?’” Rempel explains.
The donor arrived with two boxes full of Bibles that date back 100 years or more. The oldest was printed in 1895, others ranging up until 1943. Many are bound in cracked leather; some have pages badly yellowed, but for the most part they are in great condition after decades of careful use.
“These are Bibles people had been using to grow their faith over the years,” Rempel says.
The 87-year-old man had been collecting Bibles for some time, Rempel says. After reading about Give the Word, he felt he should donate his collection.
“I was in a bit of shock,” Rempel says.
He began opening up the Bibles and reading the notes people had written in the margins over 118 years ago. Writing about their faith journeys, their thoughts, prayers, celebrations, marriages, births, Rempel says he was deeply moved.
“It’s evident that these Bibles were changing lives in the 1800s just like they are today,” he says, adding he was especially struck by the verses the former owners highlighted, like Romans 12:21, “Do no be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It is proof that, “the Bible is timeless and alive,” Rempel says.
Instead of giving the older Bibles away, Rempel hopes to set up a display, showing how Bibles have changed through the decades up until the present, including the outreach Bibles Give the Word distributes today.
The gift is an encouragement, Rempel says, and spurs him and his small staff to continue to provide free Bibles for ministry and for those with a vision for outreach. He says they continue to receive calls from across the country, from ministers who can’t afford to buy Bibles, but need them.
“Lots of organizations say they do lots of outreach and struggle to buy Bibles,” Rempel says. “They can only afford 20, but could easily use 50. They say, ‘Now we have a place to get them.’”
The sheer amount of testimonies Rempel is hearing is proof the Bibles are being put to good use. He has visited more than 50 churches in the last year, challenging those in attendance to grab a free Bible on their way out and have it on hand to give away when they see someone who could use it.
“They give the Bible away and have this amazing experience, and then they want to do it again,” Rempel says. “It’s really cool to see the tangible fruit coming from this ministry.”
The ministry has grown alongside Rempel’s vision, though he says now it’s a matter of finding the funding to match it. They hope to order 20,000 Bibles and are in the process of raising $63,000.
While a daunting figure, Rempel looks to God to provide. In the end, Rempel says, it’s not really about him. Instead he can only do his job and let God worry about the big stuff.
“This is God’s ministry, why am I worrying?” he says.
To learn more visit givetheword.ca.
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