D. HUSAR: Quincy church's Bibles spreading the Word to Muslims in Tanzania

Posted: Nov. 11, 2011 8:13 am Updated: Nov. 28, 2014 3:03 pm

The email to Central Baptist Church's Rev. Ivan Greuter was great, but the accompanying photo was even better.

The photo showed a Bible, imprinted with the church's name, in use in Tanzania.

If the goal is to spread the Word throughout the world, then Central Baptist certainly has a good start.

Some of the Quincy congregation's used Bibles are teaching Muslims in Africa about Christianity.

"Those Bibles have been sitting on a shelf here at church for years. I thought why not put them to use," Greuter said, so at a mission conference in 2009, the church donated the Bibles to the Used Book Depository.

The depository, a mission partner for the church, collects used Bibles, hymnals, Christian periodicals and reference materials, makes any repairs and sends them overseas.

"I thought they would end up in Asia at a Baptist Christian seminary or a Baptist school," Greuter said. "They ended up on the other side of the world doing totally different work."

Greuter never expected to hear any more about the Bibles. Then in September, he received an email from Joel B. Miller with a subject line "is this your church?"

Miller is associate pastor of youth at Logan Street Baptist Church in Mount Vernon. His church took a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa, and while there, the group visited a Muslim secondary school named IBRA and a missionary teaching a Bible knowledge class.

"The Bibles they were using had your churches name on them and I took a few pictures," Miller said in his email. "Not sure how they got there but I thought it may be interesting to try to figure out how Bibles from your church ended up in Kondoa, Tanzania at a Muslim school. Let me know if you can find anything out, it may be an interesting story to tell."

Greuter first had to find out about Miller.

"At first I thought is this a hoax? I did some investigating and called the area minister, who knew him," he said.

With the sender's authenticity verified, Greuter did more research, finding out depository volunteers transported the used books to Montgomery Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, which sorted and shipped the Bibles to missionaries in Tanzania. Then he shared the email and photo with the congregation.

Church members "thought it was absolutely wonderful that these Bibles would be in Africa teaching the Good News to people who might not have heard it, and they were totally surprised they were being used by missionaries to teach the Bible to people of the Islamic faith," Greuter said.

The news also meant a geography lesson for the congregation.

"Thank God for Google maps," Greuter said.

Sharing the story with the wider community, via another email, already has generated more donations for the depository.

Working with the depository remains an ongoing mission for Central Baptist, located at Seventh and Broadway in Quincy.

"We are still collecting used Bibles and hymnals for future shipments," Greuter said.

Used Bibles, in any translation or language, along with hymnals, Sunday School curriculum and cash donations for the program may be dropped off at the church 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon Sundays.