When Peabody Baptist Church pastor Rodger Charles attended an annual Christmas luncheon at Westview Manor in Peabody early in December he asked Westview activities director Echo Smith if there was anything he could do to help for Christmas.
“I told him we were set for Christmas,” Smith said. “But we did have a general need he might be able to help with. We have several clients who have trouble reading their Bibles because of the small print. He said he would look into it and get back with me.”
“I asked how many Bibles it would take to fix the problem and she said, ‘Oh nine or 10 – but it would be nice to have a few extra in case we need them,’” Charles said. “I thought 15 was probably doable.”
When he got home, he looked on the Internet at some sites for religious publications. He found a soft-back Bible with “giant print” for $23.
Charles said he put a statement on his personal social media page, thinking that he might eventually receive a few commitments totaling $100 or so.
“I figured 15 at $23 would cost $345 plus shipping,” he said. “So I decided to ask for $350. I was just hoping to get a few contributions as a start before I contacted some donors who regularly help finance the Lord’s work.
“I didn’t even say specifically what it was for,” he said. “I just put out a plea for $350 and told them to private message me if they were interested.”
Charles said he likes to keep local projects with local merchants when possible, so he contacted Faith and Life Bookstore in Newton. They had a similar giant print Bible for $18. Plus, it was hardbound.
“Since I didn’t think I would get much response from my request online, I didn’t bother to change it,” he said.
Charles headed to Marion to watch his daughter play in a basketball tournament. Mentally he had already gone from pastor to basketball dad when his cell phone began ringing off the hook.
“I was flabbergasted,” Charles said. “Less than two hours later, I had pledges and commitments of $350. I was on the phone with another friend who wanted to contribute $100. I did not even get the words out of my mouth that we had reached our goal, when he said, ‘Wait, my better half says we will cover the full cost — $350.’ I was flabbergasted again!
“So, in two hours I not only had enough money to buy giant print Bibles for the 10 or 15 residents who needed them, I had enough to provide the hard cover Bibles from the Newton bookstore for all 40 residents --$720,” he said. “Each Bible will have Westview embossed on the front. Every resident who wants a Bible will have one to carry or keep in their rooms.”
Charles said the Bibles will be ready to be picked up toward the end of this week. He still is astounded at the outpouring of support for an anonymous project for a small town in the middle of Kansas.
“You know, only about $70 of the entire amount donated came from Peabody or people connected to Westview Manor residents,” he said. “I was certainly caught off guard. There were seven donors to this project — seven. That speaks volumes to me about where their hearts are.”
“This has been exciting for us and for our clients who can’t wait to get their new Bibles,” Echo Smith said.