Scotland (MNN) — Ready for the 2014 Commonwealth Games? Like the Olympics, this sporting competition is held every four years. This year’s event is set to open July 23 in Glasgow. Nearly one million spectators and 4,500 athletes are expected, making this an unparalleled opportunity to share God’s love with people from more than 70 nationalities–all gathered in one place.
Mark Finnie with Biblica says Glasgow is where they’re focusing their outreach efforts, which include a letter from Queen Elizabeth II.
“She’s written a really beautiful little piece for us that talks about the New Testament being so important to her and encouraging people to read it for themselves,” Finnie shares.
The Queen’s letter is written as a foreword to a special Commonwealth New Testament that Biblica and the Scottish Bible Society (SBS) compiled specifically for outreach efforts. Teams of believers will be handing out these commemorative Scriptures at the Games to spectators and athletes alike.
Queen Elizabeth’s “stamp of approval” is significant for two reasons.
“One: because she’s head of the Commonwealth, and she’s clearly stating her faith and the importance of God’s Word,” Finnie states. “Two: because it’s very rare for her to actually comment on anything, to write a forward for any book at all.
“To get her to do this is almost like creating the ‘Queen Elizabeth version.'”
The NIV Commonwealth New Testament is only Part One of the Biblica and SBS outreach plan. Part Two includes something called the “Penny Gospel” that’s taking Scotland by storm.
“Glasgow’s been [made] famous for its ‘Penny Bazaars,’ where items, [such as] sweets and a variety of different household goods were available for a single penny in Victorian days,” explains Finnie.
The Penny Bazaars were a bright spot in a sometimes turbulent city. “What Detroit is to North America’s motor industry, Glasgow is to the UK shipping industry,” said Mark. “It’s a very deprived, urban city. Lots of slum housing, tenements [low-income multi-family dwellings], and poverty.
“We thought it would be brilliant if we could provide a gospel that was contemporary, that fit in with their culture. So the Scottish Bible Society suggested doing a gospel for this traditional community and calling it the Penny Gospel.”
The Penny Gospel is being distributed to churches in Scotland for a penny per copy. The response so far has been overwhelming, with churches ordering 250,000 copies already, in a country of 5 million people.
“Their hope is that as people pick it up, as they read it, their lives will be touched by the story of Luke, and that the Holy Spirit will work in them and bring them to faith,” shares Finnie.
But the opportunity for impact doesn’t stop there. For Biblica, helping people access the Bible is only a first step. That’s why Biblica and the SBS are partnering to promote Community Bible Experience, Biblica’s 8-week New Testament reading campaign, throughout Scotland.
Every copy of the Penny Gospel will direct readers to a Web site where they can find a Community Bible Experience group near them. The goal is to see 80 churches participate over the next 6 months.
The tremendous potential for Gospel reach, however, is hindered by one thing: cost. It takes more than a penny to cover the cost of each Penny Gospel. It takes ten. Can you help cover some of the Penny Gospel production costs?
Financial help is certainly needed, but more importantly, this project needs your prayers. The 2014 Commonwealth Games span from July 23 through August 3. Will you commit to pray for Biblica and SBS’s outreach during this time?
“Pray that the huge number [of Penny Gospels] that have been requested will be distributed effectively and to the right people,” asks Finnie.
Pray also that hearts will be softened to receive the message of Christ, and that new believers will be effectively disciple through the Community Bible Experience.