10,000 Child's Bibles for East Timor
Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of ACN, had a heartfelt wish to provide Bibles for children all over the world. As he said, “Children need something like a child‘s Bible, so that the image of Christ can become a living one in their hearts.” At the same time, he knew that in most countries these children were so poor that they could never do more than dream of having such a thing. Not only this, but in many languages there were no translations of anything like a child’s Bible at that time.
Father Werenfried decided, with the help of our generous benefactors, to make a gift of just such a child’s Bible to children all over the world. The current version, entitled God speaks to His Children has now been published in a total of over 50 million copies and in more than 170 different languages.
Among the many different languages in which this Child’s Bible has been published is Tetum, one of the two official languages in East Timor – today one of the most Catholic countries in the world, with a percentage of almost 98% Catholics. Here, in this small island nation, the Church is flourishing – and she is also very young, with over 60% of the population aged 25 or less.
“On Sundays, in the towns and villages, you can see almost everyone on their way to church. And on weekdays, when Mass is celebrated as early as 6 a.m. on account of the heat, entire classes of schoolchildren still attend. You can sense people’s openness to God, especially among the children. After Holy Mass, throngs of children come running up to the priest, to kiss his hand and ask for a blessing.” So writes Father Martin Barta, the international spiritual assistant of ACN, who recently visited the country.
At the same time, this is a very poor country, ranked 128th out of 187 on the U.N. Human Development Index, according to which around 37% of its 1.2 million or so inhabitants live below the poverty threshold.
The Salesian Fathers, who run more than 50 primary schools in East Timor, had asked ACN for help to print 10,000 Child’s Bibles in the Tetum language. Now the books have been delivered to the children – to their great joy!
The Salesians and the children want to thank all our
generous benefactors, who helped with the $8,500 for this project. Now indeed “the
image of Christ can become a living one in the children‘s hearts.”
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