“I have been using Help From Above for about 30 years on optometric mission trips. I first saw this booklet when I went to Haiti with Haiti Medical Teams (from Yakima, Washington) in 1987. I have done an annual out-of-country eye-care trip since 1990. The most common problem that we find when doing eye clinics is presbyopia, which means ‘old vision’ and is when people lose the ability to focus in on reading and other near-point tasks. When we give a patient a pair of glasses that allow them to see to read again, probably after a time of not being able to, the next logical step is to give them some printed material on which to try out their new eye wear. Help From Above is perfect in that it is Scripture verses only, without any editorial comment.
I just returned from an optometric mission in Lima, Peru and in Puerto Cortes, Honduras. In Peru, I met a woman who does prison ministry to women, and I showed her how to prescribe reading glasses. I plan to send her a supply of various-powered reading glasses and some Help From Above booklets to give out with them. Please send me a standard-size box of Help From Above in Spanish. I will send a check to help with your work.”
-James O., O.D., Washington, USA
By Julie Bourdon
Honduras (MNN) – Honduras is said to have one of the highest murder rates in the world. In some cities, the violence is so bad, it’s only slightly safer than a war zone. Take San Pedro Sula, for example. According to Reeuters, about 200 people fled the city in a month’s time earlier this year. The violence stems from gang activity, intertwined with drugs and organized crime. Sadly, children are often drawn into the violence, one way or another.
Sharing the Gospel as an organization
World Missionary Press provides Gospel literature in hundreds of languages for organizations and individuals around the world. One of their major distributors in Honduras is addressing these societal issues with two very important tools—education and the Gospel. A branch of their ministry called Children’s Gift Ministry is reaching out to children specifically.
Helen Williams of World Missionary Press says last December, they received a call from this distributor with a testimony of how the last shipment of booklets was helping their network of pastors.
“He said, ‘Because of what you sent us, we were able to evangelize more than 25,000 children and young people in this particular area.’”
One pastor, for example, hands out the booklets with colored teddy bears called “faith bears.” These bears are color-coordinated to tell the salvation story. The booklets and the bears work together to help children understand the Gospel.
But as is often the case, the praise report came with a request. The group was nearly out of Scripture booklets, and the school year was about to start!
Part of Children’s Gift Ministry is the annual "Back To Classes With Jesus" program. It provides children, aged six to 12, with a backpack full of supplies. These backpacks can be the difference between going to school, or not.
Church leaders hold local, community-wide evangelism events. As they distribute the backpacks, pastors take the children through the Scripture booklets from World Missionary Press. Each child receives their own booklet. Many children have given their lives to Jesus during these events. And as the program grows, so does the potential to see lasting change in Honduras.
“You know, you reach these children, you have a chance to change a culture and change a community, and change a nation. And that’s what the Spirit can do through His Word,” Williams says.
So before the current school year began, World Missionary Press sent a large shipment of booklets, including some in the Miskito language. When classes started up, the back to school program had reached 30,000 children in 200 locations across Honduras. That means 30,000 children got to encounter the Word of God.
“They are going to know the Scriptures, they’re going to have it in their hand, they’re going to take it home, it goes with the backpacks, it’s taught,” Williams says.
In addition to the backpack project, these booklets are an important part of pastoral outreach, church planting, and discipleship. And so, the requests for more Scripture booklets keep coming.
“For many of those people and their churches and believers down there, this will be the closest thing they get to a Bible. And so, we just want to encourage people that the Lord is blessing and the Lord is using this and we are trying to keep up. This is one major distributor out of about 85 that we have that keep saying, ‘hey, that was wonderful, can I have some more?’”
Later this year, World Missionary Press will be sending another shipment with about 500,000 pieces of literature going out. Williams says the shipment, made up of both Spanish and Miskito booklets, will be one of their largest to Honduras.
Sharing faith as an individual
But it’s not just organizations that have effectively used Scripture booklets for ministry. Williams shares one story that shows the power of the individual who is willing to share God’s Word.
She received a letter from a lady earlier this month who lives in a low-income housing project in Colorado.
“She says, ‘I gave some of your booklets to the cleaning lady in the morning. And then in the afternoon, God led me to verbally witness to her. She then received Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. She was ready and willing and I am very happy about this.’”
This lady wasn’t just sending a praise report, she was requesting more material. Why? To keep on witnessing. The woman explained that people come and go all the time. Most of them accept the booklets, and she has been blessed every time she’s handed one out.
Williams says, “I think of this wonderful lady who just gave a Scripture booklet to the cleaning gal that came to her apartment, and later in the day followed the Spirit’s prompting to talk to this lady directly, and a child of God was born, a soul came to Christ.”
For Williams this story means that, “there is no one that the Spirit cannot use if we’re willing to be used and He will bring us the opportunities if we are sensitive to His leading.”
And that applies across cultures and language barriers, too. In fact, World Missionary Press is equipping ordinary, monolingual people to witness to their neighbors who come from other countries and have a different first language.
“Everywhere you’re going to run into someone who speaks Arabic, or French, or Spanish, or Portuguese, or Swahili, or Gujarati, or Hindi. And we can provide them material—just one or two booklets that they can share with an in-law or a neighbor or a tradesmen or a friend, someone that they want to share the truth of the Scripture but not quite sure how to get it across.”
By Julie Bourdon
Nicaragua (MNN) – Fifteen years ago, missionary Steve Bakos entered a region of the world shrouded in spiritual darkness. The people group he encountered had very little access to Scripture and among them were those practicing witchcraft.
Steve Bakos has been a missionary for 27 years, starting in Mexico for the first 12 and serving in Nicaragua to the present time. He has been distributing booklets from World Missionary Press for over two decades.
While Nicaragua is mostly a Spanish-speaking nation, there are minority language groups. Bakos says, “Up in the [Northeastern] part of the country, there is an indigenous people group, the Miskito Indians which have their own dialect and the vast majority of them speak no Spanish. So when the Lord led us there 15 years ago—it is a very remote region, a lot of poverty. But having worked in Mexico amongst poverty, what impacted me the most was not the poverty of the people but [a] region void of the Word of God.”
When he encountered the Miskito people, he partnered with World Missionary Press to begin translating their Scripture booklets into the Miskito language. Twenty-four months later, the project was completed.
“For about 96% of the entire population in that region, it was the first time they had ever seen the Word of God in their own written language. And since that time the impact that the Word of God has brought to that region is unbelievable. There’s story after story.”
Local witch turns to freedom in Christ
One of Bakos’ favorite stories, for example, is about a man named General from one of the Miskito villages.
He says, “General was the most feared witch on the entire Río Coco river—over 50 years practicing witchcraft. And it was a very, very, dark, dark region. Very active spiritually in the witchcraft. But as we began to come in there with the Gospel and again leaving the literature, explaining the literature, it began to transform that region.
“And one particular trip we made, General came up to me and basically said, you know ‘I never knew about this, but will you tell me how I can accept Jesus?’ and that day he received Jesus, burned all of his tools, if you will, of the trade and has never looked back. And he’s been living for the Lord ever since and that was over 12 years ago.”
Meeting the Provider
Not only were hearts transformed by the bringing of the Gospel, but those who accepted Jesus began to see their circumstances in a new light. The Miskito people, Bakos says, live a simple life in a remote part of the world. So remote, in fact, that the different villages are most easily accessed along the river in dugout canoes. These people farm for their food. They have no electricity, and everything is done by hand.
For many years, their efforts to produce a strong crop to feed their communities has been thwarted by a number of difficulties.
“Year after year they were cursed with plagues. The rice wouldn’t produce or the river would flood and they would lose their crops and they went years without food. And as the Gospel came in, I’d tell them … , ‘God is the provider. Look to the Lord, not to man to meet your needs.’” And as they began to understand more and more about God through his Word, they came to trust in him. And then God provided them with vitamin enriched rice to eat. Now, their children are no longer dying from hunger but are healthy and growing.
“They’re giving God the glory for his provision because, not only does he save and forgive, but they’re understanding that he is the source, that he is the provider of all they need even when the things of this life throw you a curve, so to speak.”
Bakos says through this event, God illustrated his love and care for the Miskito people.“Just as God has brought his Word here, he has confirmed his Word in that he does provide.”Today, the Word of God continues to transform thousands of lives among the Miskito people.
Even so, there are still a variety of challenges the ministry faces on a logistic level. Because there are no roads, transporting people and Scripture booklets and other supplies has been difficult. Mud and rain mean traversing over land is trying, and so much of the transportation has to be done by the river.
“It’s a challenge in a good way … because one of the other fruits that has happened since the booklets have come there and the Word of God, is now many of the people who have come to the Lord and God has birthed churches –we are sending out native missionaries, born-again, Christian Miskitos to share the Gospel with their fellow Miskito Indians.”
Right now, Bakos and his ministry are sending out 50 native missionaries a month to share the Gospel using Scripture booklets and a study of John from World Missionary Press.
Will you ask God to guide their paths as they continue this outreach? Pray for the necessary resources to be provided and for hearts to be open to the Gospel.
And if you are a missionary or just a believer wanting to reach out to your community, consider ordering Scripture booklets, free of cost, to hand out.