While not being exactly a two-part series, this post and the previous one go hand-in-hand. Both are in response to my recent trip to London.
He has put eternity in their heart…
In my last post, I commented on the persistent draw that London has for me, and I ended with a quote by Thomas Moore (from a rather snarky poem, actually :) ) that refers to “eternal London.” The utterance was particularly striking in light of my recent trip; London itself may seem to have an endless quality, but my reason for going this time was actually toward eternity, with eternity in view.
This trip was not just for tourism or school or vacation (though I did a fair share of that, too). I went to join Amana Trust, a UK charity who distributes Bibles throughout Europe. Amana had received a donation of 100,000 New Testament Recovery Version Bibles to be given out for free at the 2012 Olympics, and they issued a call for volunteers to come and help distribute these Bibles. We were appealing to the eternity in mankind’s heart, to the God-shaped vacuum (to quote Pascal), to the deep part of man’s being that seeks something lasting, something nontarnishable, something eternal. And we sought to match that seeking with the eternal Word of God, with a version of the Bible designed to be understood, studied, dived into, enjoyed, assimilated, and digested.
The trip was amazing. I was terrified at first, you might as well know. I don’t do things like preach the gospel or pass out tracts or, you know, talk about being a Christian unless I absolutely cannot avoid it. But I really wanted to be a part of this endeavor, and my experience with the Recovery Version has been completely rewarding. It is, as it purports to be, a Bible you can understand. So, despite my fear and self-consciousness, I decided to just dive right and do the best I could. It wasn’t hard at all. The demand for the Bibles was overwhelming. We had people literally running to the table to get them, asking us before we had even set up “shop” for the day. Well, let me back up.
I went with 200 other Christians from various churches around the world (mostly the US and UK). We stayed at Bower House, Amana Trust’s facility, and we were all divided into teams. Each team would go out every day to their assigned location, set up a table, and pass out Bibles to people who were interested. Because the Bibles are so precious, we weren’t tasked with handing them out lightly. Only people who actually wanted one were given one (versus some pamphlet distributions, where you just stand there and hand them out to everyone who walks by). That made the job a little easier. You weren’t really talking to “cold faces” but to people who actually were interested in what we had.
I was assigned to the Olympic Park B team, and we set up our table the first day. Our spot was supposed to get 40,000 people passing by every day, but due to some train re-routing, we got almost no traffic at all. In total, we handed out about 70 Bibles throughout the whole day. We were pretty discouraged, not gonna lie.
The project coordinators seemed to feel like putting so many volunteers at Olympic Park B might be a waste of our efforts, since traffic was so low, so our team was reassigned. We were commissioned as “The Traveling Team.” Each day, one team had to stay behind to pack Bibles for future distribution and to make follow-up phone calls to people who had requested further contact from Amana Trust. My team was designated as the “sub” for whatever team stayed back. That meant we got to distribute all over London, a new place each day!
We went to Hyde Park Corner one day, King’s Cross station another day, and Wembley Park on the last day (we also stayed in to pack Bibles one day). All in all, our encouragement levels rose steadily :) By the end of the week, all the teams combined had passed out about 10,000 Bibles. Combined with the number passed out during the Olympic Torch Relays, Amana had distributed a total of 40,000. The distribution project is still going on; it continues until the end of the Paraolympics, actually, so that number should be rapidly rising.
I also did a little bit of sight-seeing, enjoying the city as much as ever. (Things well-worth paying for: the tour of the Houses of Parliament and entrance into Kensington Palace. #lovelovelove).
If you want to see more of my pics, they’re in my G+ album here (should be publicly available; if it’s not, can someone let me know?). PS. same photos as are on Fb (if you’re my friend). and if you follow me on instagr.am, you’ve seen a handful of the pics already. xo