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Study Bibles for Africa: An Expanding Outreach

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 26, 2022 12:01 am

Study Bibles for Africa: An Expanding Outreach

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 26, 2022 12:01 am

By God's grace, we have the opportunity to help shape the future of the church in Africa. Today, Ligonier President Chris Larson is joined by Rosemary Jensen of the Rafiki Foundation to continue a conversation about distributing 100,000 Reformation Study Bibles to African pastors and teachers. Will you help?

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

Today on Renewing Your Mind, announcing a significant expansion of an outreach that the Lord is using to renew minds and transform lives throughout Africa. Welcome to this special edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and before I tell you about this outreach, let me give you sort of a word picture of what's in front of me here in the studio.

I have my laptop here in front of me, a microphone, of course, and other electronic gear, essential tools in recording this program every day. But more importantly, I have a copy of the Reformation Study Bible here. I need it to make sure that what I'm communicating to you is accurate and biblical. I check it often, but I also find it an essential part of my personal study, and I know that many of you feel the same way.

Dr. R.C. Sproul served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible, and back in 2015, Dr. Sproul and some of our teaching fellows explained why we consider it to be one of the most important resources Ligonier has ever published. At various places and at various times, God has been pleased to bring about awakenings, and in all of those movements in history, at the very center was an awakening to the power and truthfulness of the Scripture itself. The Reformation Study Bible is at the end of a long line of work. All of these streams, they're pouring into the destination of enabling you as a reader to sit down with God's Word and to understand that in a way that is crisp, in a way that is fresh, in a way that brings God's Word to bear on the life that you live today. It's like having an entire seminary and library at my side. Great care has been taken in the way in which the notes are presented and the text presented.

And overseeing that entire process is Dr. Sproul. And as the Study Bible comes together, it reflects that fidelity to the historic Reformed faith that has marked Dr. Sproul's ministry for these last four decades. Where the Scripture is studied deeply and ingested into the bloodstream of people, that's the power that God uses to awaken the church and move beyond revival to Reformation. We call this book the Reformation Study Bible. What we want to see happen is a Bible study Reformation. And that means we want to get this Bible into as many hands as possible. Now, since we released the thoroughly revised edition of the Reformation Study Bible in 2015, more than 260,000 copies have been distributed.

But our desire is to get it into even more hands around the world. To that end, Dr. Sproul launched the Study Bibles for Africa campaign in 2017, not long before he went home to be with the Lord. Today, we're announcing a significant expansion of this outreach that many of you have been supporting.

So here's our president, Chris Larson, with a special guest, a partner with us in this strategic outreach. It's a delight to be able to have with us here in the studio Mrs. Rosemary Jensen, founder of the Rafiki Foundation, known to many of you all as really one of the leading outreaches to Central and Eastern Africa, to be able to raise up the next generation of godly leaders in Africa. And that ministry has borne so much fruit for many decades now, serving widows and orphans and truly remarkable ministry. And Mrs. Jensen partnered with Ligonier just a few years ago through her Bible Foundation. And this was a big campaign.

In fact, it was the last campaign that Dr. Sproul was able to launch with Ligonier before he went to be with the Lord. And tell us about that idea of getting Study Bibles to Africa, not just any Study Bible, but the Reformation Study Bible sent to Africa. And what was it that gave you the idea to do that? Well, the long story is that when my husband died a year or so after he died, I thought to the Lord, I thought, why did you leave me here? What do you want me to do now? No husband?

What am I supposed to be doing? And so it was like the idea was put in my mind, well, I love Africa and I love the Bible. I always have. And so I was going to put those two things together. So I thought, OK, so I will know. I know the best Bible is the Reformation Study Bible is the Reformation Study Bible that I know of. And so I'm going to order some and start a foundation called the Rosemary Jensen Bible Foundation, where I ask them to give me Bibles, I'll buy the Bibles and send them out to Africa. So I ordered a thousand Reformation Study Bibles. And of course, I knew R.C.

Sproul well. And so then I ordered another thousand. And he said, what in the world are you doing?

Why are you doing this? And I told him that we needed Bibles because they did not have them in the countries where Rafiki has all its villages. So since they didn't have Bibles, I wanted to give them to them. So that's when he said, OK, how many can we send out? And I said, well, you know, we need we need we need we need. And I couldn't think about how many we need. And I said, but he said, well, OK, we'll send out maybe three thousand or something like that and we'll raise the funds for it. And so we ended up thinking, OK, we'll send out 36 thousand altogether.

And that was where we stopped. And then we were hoping to do that over 10 years. So over 10 years, 2017. And so we were trying to finish that by 2028.

And one of the things that R.C. would often do is remind us that sometimes we overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but we can tend to underestimate what we can accomplish in five years. We would say, but certainly in 10 years.

And we're well ahead of that pace. And so what we're coming together today to do is to announce the expansion of that campaign to send out a hundred thousand copies of the Reformation Study Bible by the original timeline of 2028. And so being able to work with you to know that we're able to get the Reformation Study Bible to people who can use them. Tell us about some of the recipients of who these Bibles are getting to. Well, the wonderful thing is, of course, I am the founder of the Rafiki Foundation.

I'm still a president of that, as well as the Rosemary Genesis Bible Foundation. And so it's Rafiki that sends out containers with all kinds of materials. So when the Bible goes out and it's getting to the different schools and seminaries and Bible colleges, not just to the Rafiki schools, what's happening with the recipients?

What are they saying? Oh, my goodness. They are so thrilled. We send out mostly to seminaries. There are 32 of them about 33 seminaries, and there are 23 different denominations that we send the Bibles out to. So we send them to church pastors. We've sent out thousands to church pastors in the countries where we are able to get the containers to.

I think we have a clip of Dr. Sproul talking about the campaign and talking about we don't need to just be sending a few, but thousands, and we'll listen to that now. You have a groundswell of conversions going on in Africa, and yet we understand that our mission in evangelism and in the Great Commission is not simply to make converts but to make disciples. To make a disciple means a disciple is a learner as a student. And the early church gathered together every Lord's Day to study the teachings of the apostles. It's the apostolic truth that's set down in the Scriptures that needs to be distributed and taught so that people can grow in a sound way into the maturity of Christ.

And so what we want to do is provide information and instruction that's based on the truth of Scripture. We shouldn't be sitting here talking about sending thousands of Bibles. We should be talking about tens of thousands of Bibles.

As I said, we're talking about an investment that has long-lasting impact in the lives of people. You touch one of those pastors and let him really be grounded in the Scriptures that immediately goes to 500 more people. You might have five or six Bibles lying around your house, but to provide a Bible, a study Bible with the notes and the theology lessons and all of that is like providing a seminary course for these pastors.

And it's like a treasure when you give it to them. And this is one of the greatest returns on investment from a financial perspective that you can have in Christian outreach to provide Bibles like this, right, for these folks in Africa. Africa is growing. The population is growing. And some demographers think that maybe even in the next 10 to 15 years, more than a billion more souls will be added to Africa. And along with that, of course, is the average age throughout Africa being about 19. So under 20 years old being the average age of more than a billion people right now. And so we actually see that average age growing younger. How important is it for discipleship and for the Great Commission to be able to get the Bible to pastors and to teachers and to those who will be able to reach the next generation? Well, obviously, it's the most important thing that we can do now is to reach the younger generation.

And I'm just going to tell you, Chris, I'm an old lady now, and I do not expect to be alive in 2028. But if I could see 100,000 Bibles out in Africa, even though that they're going to go out to Africa before I die, I would be so happy about that. So it would make me the happiest person is to get these Bibles out, because there's nothing more important for anybody to have than the Bible. And I do love the Reformation Study Bible. It's not just a Bible.

It's a whole library in one volume. And so I'm just praying that this will really work out. You can get 100,000 out there. Maybe you could do it while I'm still alive. That would be wonderful.

I would love to see that happen. Absolutely. Well, your zeal for this effort to be able to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ in Africa has really galvanized much of our attention with international outreach. We have tried to prioritize the translation of the Reformation Study Bible into many different languages. So English, of course, travels far and wide in Central and Eastern Africa. But there are many nations that speak French. And so we're working on a French edition as well as Arabic, of course, in that northern region as well.

Yeah. And we're in Western Africa as well. As well as Western Africa. We have some of our biggest villages in Nigeria. And Nigeria is one place where we definitely need the Bible there. We have wonderful opportunities to get it out. And when they're facing so much hardship now with the Boko Haram and all those things going on in Nigeria with, I don't know how many millions of people they have in Nigeria, but it's the largest country population-wise in all of Africa.

So, yeah, we want to make sure we get those out. Some people have been surprised when I've told them that on any given Sunday there's more Presbyterians worshiping in Nigeria than there are in America. And they just, wow, they can't believe just the sheer numbers of the population. And so for us trying to reach the world and serve the world in obedience to the Great Commission together, we're thinking about Africa, where much of the gravitational center for global Christianity is really moving south of the equator into that global south window. And you have seen that, and you've been in every country in Africa. What is it like to be able to bring the Word of God to God's people, and how do they respond to receiving the Bible?

I wish you could go out and just see. I wish everyone could go out and see how grateful these people are. When we have Bibles galore in this country, in the United States, but when these people who have nothing but little, maybe, paperbacks or something of Bibles, and when they get these Reformation Study Bibles, they are just ecstatic. I have been to nearly every single country in Africa, and every place where we have been able to see these Bibles given, they are just, they hug us. I mean, they are so grateful.

They just can't get over how great it is to have them. Hosea 4-6 talks about God's people perishing for a lack of knowledge. How does the Bible help us to know who God is?

Well, it's a big question. Well, but it's the easy one, because actually there's no other place you can go to find God in written form other than the Bible. And that's why I've read it, studied it, and all, ever since I was age 16. And so, I mean, there is there is no other place to know in written form where God is. And so, that's why the Bible is so important. And it's fine to have things online, you know, in a cloud somewhere, but it makes all the difference when it is written down, and certainly that's what this Bible is so wonderful. And many of the places where we've been able to distribute the Reformation Study Bible with the Rafiki Foundation, and through that amazing network of partnerships that Rafiki has developed over decades now, we're told that to get one of these study Bibles would be about a month's wage.

I think right now, I would say probably two months. Is that right? Yeah. I mean, they just couldn't, in the first place, they can't even find them. They can't get them anyway. But the second thing is that we are giving them, we're giving these Bibles to these people. And giving them to people who will actually use them. And they will use, I mean, they will read every word. They will use them. They'll use them for their sermons, the pastors they will use.

And so, we're giving them to school teachers, we're giving them to pastors, we're giving them to seminary students, we're giving them to our teachers in all the schools, and they will use them. You have dreamed significant dreams in service to the Great Commission in your life, you and your husband serving God's people in so many different ways. How have you seen God provide for you all over the years? You've come to me several times with, here's what I'm thinking about.

And it's clear that you don't have the answer of how this is going to happen yet. But you start to talk and you start to ask and you start to seek and you're seeking the Lord. But how many times have you just seen the Lord answer these prayers, these very large petitions that you have brought to the Lord to accomplish?

Have you seen that just numerous times in your life? Well, Chris, honestly, I never have had big visions. But I do see things that need to be done. And it's interesting because the one thing that I have made a decision about, and that is that we started Rafiki 36 years ago. I did at the beginning of it. And I never had any idea that we would be where we are today. Okay.

So I didn't see all of that 36 years ago. But when you see the next thing that needs to be done, not what we decide we're going to do for people, but what they're asking us for. And that's the important thing. When we decide that, we decide, well, here's what we're going to do, because we believe it is God's will. We don't decide, well, do we have the money for it? We decide this is what we're going to do. And then we're going to trust God to give us the money. And I'm just going to tell you, I'm old now. And he's never failed.

He has never failed. That is my witness that the Lord has never failed me. My husband and I were missionaries. We lived in Tanzania.

We lived in Africa for nine years. And then we came back and we started all these other crazy things that we're doing now. And we came to know people like R.C.

Sproul and Ligonier and so forth. And so God has put these things together. He puts it together.

But somehow he puts the things in my mind and then he makes it happen. I think this project has helped me to better understand the way that we can serve the Great Commission at Ligonier. You have helped me to see how we can trust the Lord through having significant projects that we put out there. But then knowing that there is no lack of resources with the Lord.

Right. And we can ask the Lord if he would use us. We are sinful people. And yet, God is pleased to use broken vessels like us as these treasures of grace to be able to get that sovereign saving grace and the testimony to his character out to more people. And for me, it's become very exciting to go to donors and to talk to them about here's what is happening in Africa. Here's what God's people are saying that this resource and many others can do to help the church there. And then to know that if the Lord wants that to happen, that if we are in alignment with this mission work that we're doing and the donor who wants to support that, really all we're then talking about is how large of a gift are they going to give? Because we already know something about that donor that they're God's child. Every child of God is generous.

Right. Because what do we have that we have not received? And to be able to then lay out this big vision, this goal, getting a hundred thousand reformation study Bibles into Africa in several different languages over the next, you know, five, six, seven years. And then who knows what's beyond that? You know, with well over a billion souls there in Africa, we recognize that we're going to be working at this.

I almost wish that I had several lifetimes as I'm sure you do too, to give to Africa, such as the opportunity and the need and the hunger and the joy that is coming along with the distribution of God's word. Right. And you've been able to witness that.

And I feel like I'm, I'm late to the party. You have seen God work through you and your husband and Rafiki for, you know, well over a generation now. And I think we're all in awe, but maybe we shouldn't be because this is God at work through you.

God's word at work. That is Rafiki's motto. And we have seen that and we've seen that continue to bear great fruit. So to be able to partner with you in this kind of effort is, it's an honor for us at Ligonier. And I just want you to know and anybody else just to know what a privilege it is to be able to serve with you and the Rosemary Jensen Bible Foundation and this network. And the Rafiki to getting this Bible out there.

That's right. This network through Rafiki and you encourage us all. And we're so grateful for you. Well, thank you because you all have encouraged me and made me so, so happy to do these things. Thank you very much, Chris.

You're a wonderful soldier in the fight. Well, Chris, it was so wonderful to hear Rosemary's passion and zeal to get these study Bibles into the hands of pastors in Africa. This is a significant expansion of this outreach. 100,000 Reformation study Bibles distributed by 2028 just in Africa. Chris, what does an effort like this cost? Right now we're projecting the cost of this outreach to be about $1.5 million.

And over the next few years, we're going to continue to try and find some efficiencies. And yet, when we've come to our listening audience and our supporters in the past, they have responded so well to these types of campaigns. And I just know how much it would have encouraged RC to know that we were moving the goalposts again on this outreach to not just be distributing tens of thousands, but actually reaching up to 100,000 Reformation study Bibles. And I know that these are so needed.

I've got some testimonies here just in front of me, Lee. And there's the church in Uganda that received 2,000 of these Reformation study Bibles. And they say that they are thanking God for this partnership. And then students in Kenya at a university there, we have been able to reach 2,500 of their students in Kenya with gifts of the Reformation study Bible.

Again, this is a resource that would be really out of reach for the average person in many of these nations in Africa. And it is a real privilege to be a partner in the gospel with these churches and universities and schools and missionaries in Africa. And I hope for our listeners, they feel that sense of partnership, too, because you're right there with us in this outreach. This is a bold endeavor, and we need your generous support to reach this next level, to take this next ministry step. Of course, none of this is possible without your support, and that's why we're asking for your help. We would ask that you prayerfully consider giving a financial gift so that we can distribute the Reformation study Bible to even more people in the continent of Africa. Let me give you our contact information. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343, or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind dot org. As we mentioned, our goal is to distribute 100,000 copies of the Reformation study Bible in Africa by the end of 2028. Your gift, no matter the amount, will have an impact, so we would be grateful to hear from you. Again, our phone number is 800-435-4343, but if you prefer to give online, our web address is Thank you, Chris, for being with us today, and to you, our listeners, thank you for joining us. Renewing Your Mind is the listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. I hope you'll make plans to be with us again Monday. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-05 21:24:59 / 2023-03-05 21:34:15 / 9

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