By Brant Mills, Director of Communications

A chance meeting during General Conference led Rev. Lindsay Kirkpatrick, Senior Pastor at Asbury UMC to learn about a drastic need for bikes and Bibles in the North Katanga Annual Conference. With 675 ordained elders, 1500 local pastors, and over 900,000 United Methodists, they only had about 100 Bibles among them. The $15-17 cost of a Bible was simply unaffordable for most. She was inspired to share their story and find resources to help.

A month later, during The Texas Annual Conference gathering in Houston, Rev. Kirkpatrick was invited to share an update from the floor about the project she had taken on.

“It was really nice for there to be such a clearly spiritual and missional component to a business meeting,” she said. “I explained we had been able to raise money for 500 Bibles and several bikes and was happy to share that progress.”

But then, following her update, District Superintendent Rev. Kip Gilts sent a text message to Kirkpatrick to ask the price of bicycles. “I thought he was just curious, but then all of a sudden he was at the microphone laying a check on the altar and challenging others to participate. By the next morning at the TWMBO breakfast, we had doubled the number of bikes from 30 to 60. And later in the day, we offered an update from the floor and were up to 75.”

Then she said Bay Harbor UMC stepped up and issued a challenge to Dickinson UMC to donate as well. Other churches and individuals continued reaching out to Kirkpatrick to offer support throughout the day.

The next morning Jeff McDonald, Senior Pastor at St. Paul’s UMC in Houston asked how much was still needed. “I calculated we needed about $1,700 more and Jeff went to the microphone and set up camp until we had all the money!”

“Then this incredible thing happened,” she continued. “A layman named Steve stood up at the microphone and asked if the conference missions team could explore the possibility of an ongoing ministry relationship with North Katanga, and it passed unanimously! It was the only business this year that came directly from the floor.”

“Seeing this come together was lovely. Just as THRIVE is helping churches gain clarity about their church health and vitality, it felt like through the bikes and Bibles, we had tapped into a natural wellspring that reminded us of our missional vitality,” Kirkpatrick noted.

They were able to send the bulk of the money through The Advance, earlier in the week, sharing $42,273 to purchase 587 Bibles and 150 bikes. But additionally, North Katanga leaders had spoken of a need for a motorcycle so their conference staff evangelist could travel to the 24 districts of their conference, which was a request Kirkpatrick hadn’t shared. She added that several churches have contacted her since Annual Conference and she believes that need will be taken care of as well. Additional gifts can be given through the church’s website at: www.asbury.cc/give, and choosing “Bible project” in the drop down menu. “I love the fact that our delegation came away with something that is so deeply rooted in scripture and mission,” Kirkpatrick concluded. “This project is beyond the business work of the church… a deeply spiritual partnership is being born. It means a lot to me when you get to do that kind of Holy Spirit work.”