D.R. Congo Container II:
Swahili Books, Hymnbooks & French Books:
Yes He Can!, Did!, Will!
ďYou have got to be kidding!Ē This was my first reaction upon hearing the news that Everyday Publications was planning to fill a 20-foot container with 70,000 Swahili and French books and send that container to one of the most war-ravaged places on earth, the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a worker newly commended to the work of Everyday Publications, I was in full agreement with EPIís mission to send books at no charge to assembly commended missionaries and believers in third world countries and to print those books, on demand, only as the Lord provided the necessary finance and resources. But could God really use a small ministry such as Everyday Publications to meet such a demand for books? I soon had my answer:
Yes He Can!
Yes He did!
Yes He will!
Dr. Ed and Gertrud Harlow founded EPI in 1964 as an inevitable response to a Divine blending of specific and unique experiences and gifts in response to a specific and unique need. Both of them had served as missionaries in the Congo and were well acquainted with the needs of the Congolese people. They both had a vision of the vast potential of Christian literature, Dr. Harlow as one of the co-founders of the Emmaus Correspondence School and Gertrud as one of translators of the Swahili Bible. The need was for doctrinally sound books about the Bible that were scholarly yet readable, written at the academic level of the reader rather than the author. Dr. Harlow developed a style of writing that met that need, a genre he called Everyday English. Dr. Harlow proceeded to write commentaries on every book in the Bible. As soon as he finished writing, Gertrud would translate the book into Swahili. Soon these meaty yet easily digestible pieces of spiritual food were being shipped by the boxful to Africa. Other missionaries heard of these books and translated them into the languages spoken in their part of Godís vineyard. Today Everyday Publication publishes more than 350 titles in Everyday English, Standard English, Swahili, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Work is also underway to translate EPI titles into Arabic and Chinese. Since 1964, God has been pleased to use EPI to send untold thousands of books to countries around the world.Yes He Did
In early 2006, Everyday Publications was presented with the opportunity to send a container of books to the D.R. Congo, to help replace that which had been destroyed in ten years of warfare. By the gracious enabling of our munificent God, a 20-foot container weighing over 13 tons was filled with 71,000 books and shipped from Port Colborne, Ontario to Montreal to Mombasa, Kenya to Kampala, Uganda to Bunia, Congo. Arriving safely in October of 2006, it took just 3 weeks for these books to be distributed to thousands of hungry believers.
When Gertrud Harlow was able to follow-up with the committee responsible for the distribution of the books in early 2007, she found that while the believers were ecstatic to receive the books, there just was not enough to go around, no matter how much they were willing or able to share. The need was clear: We need to send another container with even more books. Could God do it again?Yes He Will
Believing that God would use us to meet this need, in April 2007 another container was ordered and placed behind the EPI print shop. Gertrud Harlow, working from Florida, put together an order of more than 94,500 books. Harold MacDougall, EPI Production Manager, began work in earnest printing the largest order in EPIís history. Faithful volunteers come each week to help with the binding and trimming, Grace Spence, EPIís shipper, shrink-wraps the books and packs them securely into boxes. At this writing we have just over 62,000 books printed, finished, and loaded into the container. When will the container ship? We really donít know. The rest of the books, like all of our books, will be printed as the Lord provides the necessary finances. We donít know when, but we know that He does, and we know He will provide at the right time.
What does it take to fill a container with books? By the time the container is fully loaded and ready to ship; we will have used almost 1.4 million sheets of paper, 1000 boxes, and untold amounts of toner, glue, tape, and cellophane. These numbers may be impressive to some and quite insignificant to others. Yet the only number that stirs our hearts is $0.00; that is the amount our brethren in Congo will be asked to pay for these books. We at EPI believe that God would have us print and ship these books free of charge. In fact, since 1991 it has been our privilege to send our books to assembly-commended missionaries and national workers around the world free of charge as the Lord enables. Countless other quantities have been sent to believers in North America and Europe at greatly subsidized prices. Unless a book can get into a readerís hands, it cannot be read.
$0.00 is also the amount that we are asking our fellow believers in North America and Europe to contribute to this project. We at EPI believe that we should look to God and God alone for the provision of our needs financial and otherwise. We would ask you to stand with us in prayer and to rejoice with us as we see the wonderful ways in which God will answer. Some might say that we should be more forthcoming about our financial needs and requirements. To those I would say that it is forthcoming enough for us to remember that we have sufficient for today and the certain promises of God for tomorrow.Current article published in Missions Magazine 2008