Bibles for Swaziland – OR – Facing a Missions Committee

by Rod Smith

Bibles for Swaziland* (no tax advantage or publicity available)

Saturday offering….. (if you want to skip church tomorrow!)

I am seldom afraid to ASK if it’s not for me or for my children – so, here goes:

About two years ago Thulani and Nate and I visited Swaziland to speak to a very large community of children in a community center.

We were in Pigg’s Peak. (Nothing to do with pigs).

The public meeting (of hundreds of children) was organized and hosted by the head (Bernadette Fourie) of a small private school called Hlanganani Primary School.

Bernadette hosted my family and my sister Jennifer Arthur in her home with her family for the few days we were there.

Hlanganani Primary School needs 150 (NEW) Bibles.

This week I asked Bernadette how much 150 Bibles would cost in USD for her to make the purchase in Swaziland and she came back with the grand total of $544.87.

I know I could write a check (and I will). I know I could write a grant request to area churches (and wait for 11 or 13 months or longer while they debate the pros and cons of sending money for Bibles to “Africa”).

I am not going to do that.

These students will graduate from university before most churches can make such decisions. But, as I have thought about it, here are some of the questions that are likely to be asked if I make a church request – and ALL of them I have heard in some form or another over the years (of course not only about Bibles) while visiting and working with churches who “do” “overseas” missions:

1. Couldn’t we collect some old Bibles and send them – I have a few in my house we never even use? Wouldn’t that make it more personal?

2. Would they appreciate them if they haven’t worked for them – you know how they are?

3. Where is Swaziland anyway? Is that a REAL place? Isn’t that just a fictional place from a Disney movie? (“No, mam, that’s Madagascar you’re thinking of, and that’s a real place too – believe it or not”).

4. Why would you send MONEY – how will you know it GETS THERE and how will you know it isn’t used for OTHER purposes? You do know how they are in Africa don’t you?

5. Don’t they need water and food more than Bibles? You know people can’t hear the Word if they are hungry and hungry – doesn’t they Bible say something about that? (I hear they need bicycles anyway.)

6. Have you researched ways to get cheaper Bibles – you do know that the Gideons put them in hotel for FREE? Couldn’t you get some of those?

7. $3.62 USD PER BIBLE sounds like a lot for a Bible – are you sure you can’t get cheaper? Are these soft or hard covered?

8. One hundred and fifty? Why can’t they share? I thought Africans were really good at sharing? Have you seen that picture on Facebook where all the little African children are sitting around with their feet touching while they share candy? Why can’t they do that with Bibles?

9. How will giving OUR money for Bibles to Swaziland bring in new members to OUR church?

10. We have people RIGHT HERE in our neighborhoods who need Bibles – are you giving to them?

11. Are these children (insert denomination) children?

12. What language will the Bibles be in and what translation – we don’t want to mislead people by using one of those new inaccurate translations do we?

13. You do know we are installing new carpets (insert your particular new installation: a new spa, coffee shop, fitness center, tech-center, roller-coaster, parking-lot monorail) at this time and all our resources are budgeted – will you be okay if we put it on the docket for next year?

14. Is the school (insert denomination) and has it been cleared by the (insert domination) national office as an official (insert denomination) mission site?

15. What kind of precedent will this set? Who else will want similar help? Have you thought about where this will end? Giving is a slippery slope I hope you know. Bibles today, what will it be tomorrow?

16. Can we pray about it and get back to you?

17. Do these children tithe? Do you know God will bless them if they tithe and then they wan’t have to go around asking for things and you know how much better they will feel about themselves.

Forgive my cynicism.

if you’d like to help let me know. I will send EVERY PENNY to Hlanganani Primary School and if we get more than $544.87 I will send that too. Send me a note if you’d like to help. I will send the total through Moneygram.


* I am making this request in my private capacity as a human being – you will not get a tax receipt or any publicity and it has nothing to do with where I work or where I attend church

One Comment to “Bibles for Swaziland – OR – Facing a Missions Committee”

  1. Ah Rod that’s excellent . Reality check of note. Should be required reading for church leaders here in Durban too. Durban still has lots going for it by the way.
    Dave Smyth

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