I don’t know how much to donate- can I just buy my booklets?

One of the most common questions we get asked is, “How do we know how much to donate to you? Can we just buy it?” 

When a charitable organisation tells everyone that their Bible products, programs and resources are “free to all” and “we’d love you to support our mission as we support yours”, it can be difficult to work out what we should do!

So here’s some simple answers to the most frequently asked questions to guide you:

  • “Why don’t you just sell the booklets at a fair price?

Short Answer: By selling our products for a fair price, we instantly put up a barrier for so many who are poor, needy, volunteering or struggling. Read “Serving on the Streets”

Longer Answer: Lifewords wants to provide ways into the Bible for everyone. We do this by reducing the barriers, and for most of our recipients, the biggest barrier is that they would never afford Bible resources. So if we simply sold our resources, the middle class Westerners might be ok, your church might be ok, even you personally might be ok, but everyone else misses out. So we would essentially be a retailer to those who can afford it.

Jesus’ way was different. Look out for the poor. Care for the needy. Inspire those who “have” enough to share with those who “don’t have”.

By the grace of God, this faith mission has been supported for 125+ years and the Lord provides. God’s system works: those who have enough provide for those who don’t. God provides through the generosity of those who give so others can receive.

  • “I just want to make sure I give a fair price for my resources. Just tell me a price!”

Short Answer: The price to produce each booklet varies, but it’s roughly A$1.80 per booklet. Sounds more than you thought? Because most of us forget that someone has to write, design, pay copyright on Bible versions, print, store and ship the booklets. To “produce” is much more than just to print.

Longer Answer: We told people a price for a while. We put a “suggested donation” amount for those who just wanted to pay. It didn’t really work because (a) we weren’t viewed as a generous mission and our donations went down, (b) there was nothing leftover for those who couldn’t afford. So we all felt good that we were paying, but we were contributing to a broken system – wealthy people buying what they need for themselves, ignoring others.

We were contributing to a broken system – ignoring the poor.

The Mathematic Answer: The price to produce Bible booklets varies. It’s over $2 per item just to print something like “A Beautiful Life”. It’s less than $0.50 to produce the “Day-by-Day” leaflet. The production cost would be broken into things like:

  • Write & create the resource: It takes writers and creators to identify the need, work out what accurately helps bring life into that situation, check that it is theologically sound, and finalise the concepts, often with a partner organisation. This takes many hours. Add that to the “cost price”.
  • Design: Booklets, programs or digital resources may look simple in their final delivery, but they have been deliberately designed, crafted and produced to enhance the focus on the scriptures and allow people to connect with God’s word simply and attentively. Another thing to add to the “production price”.
  • Copyright: Many people are unaware that companies actually own certain Bible translations. The NIV provides millions of dollars in revenue for the Bible Society; other translations are owned by publishers or even individuals. We have agreements and often pay for the rights to use their translation. Add $ here.
  • Print: OK, now we get to the part we can see. Lifewords recently reprinted an old booklet title that a group of elderly supporters wanted to use in their ministry. They offered to pay the print cost. Great! Praise God. So the print bill came in. It could be broken into a simple per-booklet price. Nice and simple. It was about $0.80 per booklet. But that’s not the production cost – even of a reprint.
  • Storage: Over the years, we’ve been blessed with staff (and volunteers) who have offered space to store our resources before they are sent. We keep overheads very low. But there are costs involved here too.
  • Shipping: If we bulk print in the UK or even more cheaply in India, Malaysia or Indonesia, we still pay the shipment and import duties to bring those booklets into each country. We also pay for the booklets to be shipped to the end user.
  • Fees on accounts and receiving funds: Our modern society has fees on everything. From receiving credit card donations, to bank account fees etc. We’re not complaining, just explaining some simple costs which makes the “pay your own way” system a very broken system.
  • “Can I get an invoice please? And is there GST I can claim back?”

Yes. Yes, you can order and if your church, business or minstry has an ABN, we simply add GST to the invoice and you can claim it back. We’ve tried to break down a fair price for those who want a sales invoice. Simply request this to vera.kuswara@sgmlifewords.com

We hope this helps you to get a heart for

Little Book of Chaos – launch photos

The Little Book of Chaos has been commissioned and given out at the Thrive Community Church, who hosted the Lifewords book launch. It was a great evening with Dr Gary Franks as the guest speaker on a “Christian response to the mental health crisis among youth”. We heard the real experiences from some young people who have wrestled with depression, anxiety, self doubt and faith. Chairman, Rob Reeve, prayed and all were sent with the scriptures with this excellent resource. Ready to order now.

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A Christian response to the mental health crisis among teenagers

LITTLE BOOK OF CHAOS – BOOK LAUNCH EVENT

Lifewords’ invites you to attend this special event during Mental Health Week Australia as we have a service to launch the brand new Little Book of Chaos.

Service Theme: A Christian response to the mental health crisis among teenagers

For: Anyone who works with or is interested in the struggles, pain and conflict that teens face – and how we bring a kind, caring, understanding, informed response.

Where: Thrive Community Church, Caringbah NSW (15 Cawarra Rd, Caringbah)

When: Sunday, 6pm 15th October 2017

Who: Dr Gary Franks will share his expertise and experiences as a Christian GP

What else: We’ll commission the Little Book of Chaos, hear from teenagers who have wrestled with issues around mental health, and enjoy a great Thrive church service.

Why: The brand new Little Book of Chaos is made for teenagers and young adults, focusing on issues surrounding depression, anxiety, self-worth, and tough times. It brings a Biblical perspective to some of our greatest struggles, using scripture and real life quotes from young adults who have experienced mental health difficulties.

You’re invited! Please RSVP to Dan Hardie at dan.hardie@sgmlifewords.com

Phones. Tablets. We live on screen. Is it an opportunity?

“As we begin the message this morning, I’m going to ask if you might take out your Bibles, and turn with me to Matthew 7”.

Only a few years ago, these words would be met with the sound of pages turning, the occasional teenager calling out “got it”, and others nodding as they browse a highlighted section of their leather-bound study Bible. This morning, as I look out on the audience, I can only see 2 paper-based Bibles. I joke, “Righto, who actually brought a physical Bible to church today?” Those two raise their heavy books to show their loyalty to the ink. The rest, including me, read the same words but from a screen. Some have two or three versions open at the same time; others  have zoomed the words into LARGE FONT to assist their fading vision; while others take digital notes alongside the text. It’s all so modern and fluent – and exactly the space where scriptures need to be most prominent.

The move to digital has been swift. It’s not just the way of the future but it’s the way of the current. For over a century, Lifewords’ has been passionate about getting the scripture into those spaces where it will bring life and good news to those who encounter it. That is now the digital space. Paper products are not redundant, but just look at a train full of commuters and you’ll realise that most are reading their news, books and social feeds from screen devices. That’s where VerseFirst has found an audience – and a highly engaged one at that.

VerseFirst is a social feed that brings beautiful, creative Bible pieces into the social media space so that followers can like, comment, share and repost to their own audience. If people are already on their screen, we want to bring scripture to them right there. VerseFirst brings hope, life and good news to the screen – and is doing so with incredible reach and results.

Right now, over 20,000 people follow the VerseFirst feed, with most engagement on Instagram and quite a strong following on Facebook. Hundreds of people comment, like and engage daily, and recently our VerseFirst blog invites people to a deeper level of reading and engagement. In fact, there’s a real community feel with younger people feeling a sense of ownership over the images, often posting them as their own status update, enabling their own followers to read and engage.

THINK ABOUT THIS COMPARISON:

(a) If I give a Little Book of Help booklet to one teenager, the best I can hope for is that he reads it, perhaps a few times, gaining insight, wisdom and hope from it. It might even help him make a choice to follow the Lord in his life. He may pass that little booklet on to another friend, so one booklet reaches two. Great!

(b) If I post one scripture image to our followers, there are around 800 people (daily) who “like” or “comment” on that image. There may be 20-30 who then repost or share the image on their own page. Well, even one of those people may have 500 friends, so a percentage of those friends all see this scripture as well – people who aren’t our audience. With 20 people taking our scripture post and sharing it, there could be thousands of additional people all seeing and engaging with scripture – and that is each DAY! So at worst, there are literally thousands who get the scriptures directly through their screen into their hearts each day. Now that seems like an incredibly fruitful opportunity!

BUT IS IT AS INTIMATE AND RELATIONAL?

Recently, an older ministry friend of mine told me that their organisation doesn’t like the digital space for sharing God’s word because it doesn’t feel as relational or intimate. I tend to disagree, and so does the evidence. Social media is part of the way young people actually do their friendships, and whether we like it or not, they spend a lot of time with their face buried in the screen, checking out what each other is doing, liking and following. They comment on each other and talk about it right there. Even the introverts among us find their voice and grow confidence to put themselves out there and tell others what they think. On the flip side, it’s a very confident person who can take a scripture booklet, leaflet or even a message and share it face-to-face with a friend or acquaintance. Perhaps it is fair to say that these online social media outlets are not “better” ways to do friendship and interaction, but just “different”. Powerfully different. And it’s here to stay.

EXPANDING OUR IMPACT:

As a Bible mission, Lifewords is all about bringing good news to everyone, everywhere. In many places, paper products are best. Our Choose Life program in African schools is impacting thousands through a series of school lessons; The Visible Story program is helping village farmers and rural churches of Indonesia to share God’s word with those who cannot even read and write; Pavement Project has helped over 30,000 children at risk to find hope in God. All of these need specialised ways of presenting scripture and good news. The social media space presents another opportunity, and we see it is a HUGE BLESSING to spreading good news to so many who would never get it. We don’t know the full impact but there are already hundreds of testimonies of people coming to the Lord, growing in faith and being encouraged in the Word.

THE BEST PART… YOU CAN JOIN IN:

Sure, you can join in by donating to Lifewords and seeing this expand and grow. That’s the obvious line you expect from a charitable organisation. But moreso, you can join in the mission by following, commenting, sharing and engaging with the daily scripture feed. Simply enter VerseFirst into Facebook or Instagram to follow and start engaging! Read the blog and join the conversation at our VerseFirst blog, and tell others about the scriptures that are being spread in creative and beautiful postings.

My dive trip was ambushed by a mission opportunist, Manado

Manado is the main city on the island of Sulawesi. In many ways, it is a surprising city within Indonesia, where there are more Christians than Muslims, more Churches than Mosques. The whole place has a large village feel, although nearly 2 million people are still located in the city. Manado is surrounded by fishing waters, numerous islands offshore, and shadowed by large volcanoes on every side. I had been invited to Manado to join the SGMLifewords training of 300+ mission workers who were being equipped with The Visible Story and numerous Bible booklets. These workers were all part of the GMIM synod, who have over 100 churches in Sulawesi.

Before my trip, I did some research into the interesting sights and local attractions around Manado that I could add to the beginning or end of my work trip. After all, this may be my only opportunity to ever be in Manado, so I wanted to see some sights. There are 3 famous things about Manado, all “B” words:

  • Bubur (a delicious local dish),
  • Bibir (meaning “lips” – they always kiss to greet in Manado), and
  • Bunaken, a dive paradise that very few tourists ever reach. As an ocean lover, this was my target.

When I arrived in Manado, it was late in the evening and I was greeted by one of the most extroverted people I had ever met. I was the only Bule (white guy) at the airport, so it was not hard for Pak Ferdinand to recognise me. Arms raised high, he calls out, “Pak Dan!” He grabs my bag without asking, and together with Pak Frans, they lead me to the car. “Nama saya Ferdinand, I’m an SGM volunteer for many years.”

Monday was my day to visit Bunaken Island. I would normally add some sight seeing at the end of a trip after we are exhausted and need time out, but this time, it was the very first thing. Pak Ferdinand had kindly offered to accompany me on the trip, taking me on a local fishing boat on the 1hr trek across to the almost-famous Island. Pak Frans instructed me to give him a “love gift” for his time, and so we made our way to the shipping port.

The Manado port reminded me that I was firmly in Indonesia. Crowded, noisy, dirty, friendly. Different smells would hit me – an open rubbish truck struggled past, durian fruit being unloaded from a small truck, and the usual scents of fish and street cooking. The waterway was filthy, filled with discarded plastics, food scraps and even building materials. But that didn’t stop children playing by the waters’ edge, or elderly chefs from cleaning utensils in the wash of boats passing. It would be a miracle if I didn’t get a tummy bug on this trip, as we just ate the local food with the locals.
As we approached our boat, I noticed Pak Ferdinand was carrying a box. “What’s in the box, Pak?

He just laughed and his big huskyvoice breaks into the laughter, saying,

“It’s a gift”.

 

I wasn’t surprised that we waited another 90 minutes after “boarding time” before we were pushing off. We were aboard an old timber transport boat with about 30 locals scattered throughout; shirtless men smoking on the roof, children up the front, and about a dozeninside. Our boat is the daily supplies carrier for the village. It transports fish, coconuts, avocado and high school students to the city each morning, and returns early afternoon with fuel, bottled water, bags of rice and even the odd motorcycle. I imagine that when the wind and waves are up, this rickety old boat would be a little scary to travel on. But there were no waves on our day.

 

We were the only guests checking in to the MC Cottages. It was A$25 for the room, which included all 3 meals in the day. Yay, I could afford that! The owners were the cooks, cleaners, maintenance and managers all-in-one.

I quickly got my snorkel gear together, put on some suncream and was ready for Pak Ferdinand to lead me to the tiny fishing boat which would take us to the edge of the reef. He can’t really swim, so he was going to watch from the boat. As he came from his room, this random box was under his arm again. What for?

“I hope its ok with you, we have slight detour before diving. Are you ok to come with me to the school?”

Pak Ferdinand was an opportunist. For him, a trip to Bunaken Island meant that he could bring scriptures across to the island and give them to school students and the village church. He had brought a few hundred scripture resources, some booklets from SGM Lifewords, and others I did not recognise. Our stop was to be an unannounced visit to the local school where he would just introduce himself and hope that they would receive him and his “gifts”.

The principal and teachers came to greet us as if we were royalty. They stopped their classes, showed us around and announced our names. I was a white foreigner rarely seen in these parts, and here I was standing in front of perfectly uniformed students and teachers in Billabong boardshorts and a singlet. I felt almost disrespectful. But they didn’t care.

Soon they called all 120 students to attention so that Pak Ferdinand could speak. He was funny, passionate and kind. Everyone was attentive, even the female Muslim teacher. And then he opened up his box and the teachers gave all students “You Matter” and “Little book of help” in their own language. They took 15 minutes to read individually, while Ferdinand sat to explain further to some students who had questions. It was a pretty special moment, watching as he shared the gospel with students on this distant, rural island. And they loved it.

After an hour, we were off again, Pak Ferdinand smiling broadly as he finished what he came to do. Now it was my turn to do what I came to do, although I felt a little ashamed that my desires weren’t nearly as noble as his!

What I saw as a site seeing dive trip was viewed by a mission-hearted man as an opportunity to share the gospel.

PS. The dive was awesome.

Dan Hardie

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Latest Interact Magazine

God speaks my language
For almost 130 years, SGM Lifewords has played a large role in making the Bible accessible to all. With over 22,000 archived resources in more than 200 languages, our new issue of Interact discusses the incredible impact this is having around the world.

To receive a posted copy of this latest Interact magazine, simply pop an email to australia@sgmlifewords.com

Note: If you normally receive Interact in the mail, it should arrive shortly. You can still read the online version linked above.

In Manchester – hope after terror

Former British Red Cross frontline response worker, Derek Alder, shares Little Book of Chaos in Manchester one week after the bombing attack that took 22 lives and left 116 people injured.

Derek Alder was among the tens of thousands of people – including our VerseFirst team – who attended Big Church Day Out (UK) at the end of May. During the festival, he came across the VerseFirst exhibition stand and the brand new Little Book of Chaos booklet, designed to help young people facing stress, anxiety and depression.

Sharing his history of emergency response with the British Red Cross, Derek explained that he had booked a trip to Manchester in light of the attack, and needed resources that would comfort people in the midst of chaos and confusion. We were happy to collaborate with Derek and gave him 100 copies of Little Book of Chaos, Little Book of Help and Little Book of Faith. The booklets remind all of us that we’re human, the struggles are real, it’s ok to not to be ok, and that God is with us through it all. Here’s a glimpse of what Monday 29th May looked like for Derek … one week on.

06:00 – Surrey to Manchester

You are the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13 NIV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

Big Church Day Out was fantastic this weekend, but with a jam-packed week before that, I’m quite exhausted now. Saying that though, I’m ready to go and meet the people of Manchester and help those who are hurting and caught up in confusion. I’m grateful for these booklets from VerseFirst because it’s an incredible way to open up conversation in such sensitive situations. Just two more hours until I arrive in Manchester!

13:00 – Mixed Emotions

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown (Isaiah 43:2 NLT) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

This morning has been a quiet one – especially for a Bank Holiday Monday. There’s been a tangible sombre presence and although it’s now picking up somewhat, you can sense the grief in the atmosphere. As I chat to a few people who are walking through the city centre – most in their early to late twenties – they tell me that “the past week has been full of mixed emotions”. A particular group of young guys take interest in Little Book of Chaos and express their thoughts. “It’s pretty sad that it takes something so awful to have a lot of us come together like this,” says 24-year-old Michael. “But I’m glad that we do come together. Even though I don’t know what’s in this book, I’ve got hope that somehow it’ll ease my mind. No idea how but it’s needed.”

17:00 – Stronger Together

I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken (Lamentations 2:11 NLT) – Bible verse included in Little Book of ChaosAfter speaking with people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences in life, it was truly touching to know that differences didn’t matter. I spoke to them about real life situations mentioned in Little Book of Help such as money, friendship and work, and we all agreed that anyone can go through times of trouble. What matters is how we respond. They were very eager on taking copies for themselves and were shocked they were free.  I also met with churches and organisations this afternoon and the recurring anthem has been “do not let this turn to hate, do not turn against each other – together we are stronger.”

22:30 – Night Vigil

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed (Psalm 34:18 NCV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

I’m gathered with hundreds of other people in St. Ann’s Square to pay tribute to the victims in Manchester one week on from the attack. I take the opportunity to approach people using the VerseFirst resources that I have left, and speak with them to hear what’s been on their mind over the last seven days. To my surprise, I start seeing smiles. Some tell me they don’t believe in God but were interested in Little Book of Chaos so took some copies. One man in particular shook my hand, thanked me for caring about them and said, “It’s touching to meet someone who has such a deep concern for people to travel 200 miles up here and share a reassuring message with hurting people through these beautiful booklets.” He wasn’t a Christian but I think a seed was planted that night.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5 NIV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

(Note: The new Little Book of Chaos is not yet available locally, and will have a full book launch and events in Australia-New Zealand during Mental Health Week in October 2017)

The Bible in a new heart-language: Youth

For the almost 20,000 young people reading VerseFirst each day in their social media feed, experiencing the Bible in their “heart language” is about more than the literal language in which they read. In a post-literate culture, images, words and cultural form combine to communicate truth and meaning for this new generation.

A recent addition to the online social media presence is the ability for young people to deepen their experience of the Bible through our new VerseFirst blog content. Young people are encouraged to “read on” from the single verses that they are seeing in art-form, to either read more of the surround chapter and verse, or to engage with the blog thoughts. The level of interaction around Bible-text is through the roof, with hundreds of young people commenting, liking and sharing scriptures each day. That is so much higher than the level of engagement we get with Bible booklets! And it is the way of the future – speaking their language.

We are excited about what comes next, as we think about how we continue to offer people ways in to the life-transforming words of the Bible, and it’s message of love and salvation through Jesus. Whether in print, via “live programmes” or through these digital resources, our passion is that everyone, everywhere should have the chance to read, hear and experience the life words of the Bible.

Free for Everyone, Everywhere

Many of you would have noticed some significant changes to our website and the removal of all “suggested donation” amounts for booklets. Notably, everything has become $0. Yes, ZERO DOLLARS for all of our quality booklets, resources and programs.

Why give them free? 

Our products are quality. That’s why people want them. All around the world, hundreds-of-thousands of our Bibles and Bible resources are freely given in the name of Jesus. The SGM Lifewords Bible mission has been actively giving scriptures for 128 years. In places like Indonesia, we have church planters, missionaries, street workers and chaplains who have no funding for Bibles, and yet we believe the scriptures bring life change and transformation as people encounter Jesus. They need Bible resources, and we feel called to make that possible.

However, in Australia and other western countries, most people ordering resources CAN afford them, and many ask “how much do these cost?” We used to put an amount of around $1 per booklet. It was a bit silly of us, because we ended up in a position where people were paying for their own booklets, but then we struggled to raise money for those who can’t afford it (which is three-quarters of our work!). When we would make an appeal to give for Bibles, most Aussies would respond with, “But I already bought mine. Why are you asking for money from me?”

In this scenario, only people who can afford their own bibles will get them. Retailing bibles isn’t our mission.

So… We have decided that EVERYONE gets Bible resources free. We feel called to utter generosity.

We want to win your heart, for you to love the Faith Mission that gives Scriptures for free to everyone! We want to show those in need that those of us who have much will actually provide – not just for our own ordering needs, but for many who can’t receive it! We want you to love our entire Bible mission. So, rather than suggest a payment like any other retailer, we offer you great resources. Then once a year, we’ll ask if anyone would like to give so our entire mission can be achieved.

If we simply suggest people pay for their own Bible resources, then many will miss out.

Free works when generosity is circulated

How you can contribute: 

Later this year, we will be doing a full blown Appeal, asking you to give so that Bible resources can continue to be distributed both here and abroad. If you have benefited from our generosity, you will hopefully recognise the importance of the mission, not just for yourself but the for the thousands who can never afford it. In Australia, we can give. We can get our churches to give. We can make it our mission to provide Bible resources to many who would never get it. And we will benefit from receiving these ourselves.

We hope you join in.

Blessings,

Dan Hardie

 

Ends of the Earth – Appeal

The “Ends of the Earth” Appeal is aiming to raise enough funds to provide 24,000 scriptures to remote villages of Indonesia. Local Pastors, mission workers and Bible College students on field mission work are requesting Bible booklets in the native languages, so we We keep getting requests in Indonesia for scriptures in local languages, relevant portions, attractive and powerful.

“Many of our partners are in mission outposts at the ends of the earth. They tell me that they just don’t have portions of God’s word to give to the people they meet and minister to. My conviction is: If God’s word contains good news for all people, then we must provide for them.” Ps Gunar Sahari

Please give generously so that we can provide titles like, “The Way to Life”, “Who Cares about Me?” and “Power to Save”. If we raise $12,000 together, no one will miss out.

You can give online here or request a gift pack to vera.kuswara@sgmlifewords.com