A few months ago, Rev. Lindsay Kirkpatrick had heard part of a podcast featuring Bishop Mande Muyombo of the North Katanga Annual Conference from Congo in Africa say something about not having enough Bibles for their pastors.

Then, last week at a chance meeting during General Conference, several of the Texas Conference delegation happened to sit at a table with delegates from the North Katanga Annual Conference at dinner one evening. Rev. Lindsay Kirkpatrick said that she, Rev. DeAndre Johnson, and Rev. Tom Pace had a great conversation with the group. One of the delegates at the table turned out to be the Director of Evangelism for their conference, and Lindsay asked him about their need for Bibles.

She learned that the North Katanga Annual Conference is the largest annual conference in the world with 675 ordained elders, 1500 local pastors, and over 900,000 United Methodists in this small part of eastern Congo. She also learned that only about 100 of them own a Bible, because the $15 cost is an extravagance in the local economy. “They preach based on the stories they can recall and are leading worship services hoping they can remember the scripture correctly… I was just thinking – can you imagine trying to lead the leaders of your church and not having access to the Bible to lead and guide your people?”

Kirkpatrick continued: “I thought about how many Bibles I have sitting on my bookshelf in my office and how much I take for granted, how much access I have to the word of God, and I said, so how many Bibles do you need?”

Bishop Muyombo asked if it would be possible to help them purchase 500 bibles, Kirkpatrick said. She looked at the other delegates from The Texas Annual Conference and asked, “We can do this, right?”

Returning home following General Conference, Rev. Kirkpatrick made an appeal to her congregation at Asbury UMC on Sunday morning. “It was communion Sunday, so we took up an offering for Bibles for North Katanga Annual Conference during our communion rail offering, and we raised $1,200 on the spot!” 

She added that letting people know that it’s only $15 to offer a Bible to a pastor who needs one is easy to do and noted that the Bibles need to be either in Kaluba, which is a local dialect, Swahili or French. Kirkpatrick also clarified that they aren’t shipping any Bibles. “It’s better for the local economy to give North Katanga the funds to purchase from businesses in their own community.”

“The way that we are handling online giving currently is if you go to the Asbury website and to our GIVE portal at https://asbury.churchcenter.com/giving, then select Bible Project from the dropdown menu. Anybody can give to the Bible project on the church’s website or send a check to Asbury with “Bible Project” in the memo line. We will collect all of the money and send it over to the conference office in North Katanga.”

“I love the fact that our delegation came away with something that is so deeply rooted in scripture and mission,” Kirkpatrick said, “And I love the fact that this project is beyond the business work of the church… that a deeply spiritual partnership is being born. It means a lot to me when you get to do that kind of Holy Spirit work.”