Read Through the Bible initiative draws more than 3,000 believers
by Marie Nesmith
May 04, 2014 | 2678 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Read Through the Bible
Maryland Guthas, site host for the 1903 Bartow County Courthouse, looks over Renee Andrews’ shoulder as she signs her initials in the Bible near Scriptures she read on Tuesday during the Read Through the Bible initiative. The Bible was presented to Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini during Bartow’s National Day of Prayer celebration Thursday. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Feeling led to partake in the historic theological initiative, Renee Andrews proclaimed her faith Tuesday as she publicly read eight chapters in 1 Chronicles. Standing on the 1903 Bartow County Courthouse’s front porch, the Cartersville resident’s eyes remained focused on the Bible as her voice ascended above the hum of an outdoor generator for 30 minutes.

“Our pastor [at NorthPointe Church said] they were going to be doing this and for our church people to sign up where they can,” Andrews said. “I felt led to do my part, to be a part of something so great as to read the Bible out in public, to show our faith and to show what we believe in is important.

“It’s our duty as Christians to show the love of God and to show our faith and what he does for us. We are Jesus’ feet. We are Jesus’ hands, and it’s up to us to do it out where people that may have a lack of faith or no faith can see how strong our faith is and how important it is to us to get the word out. And where else to [read the Bible] than out in public on the courthouse steps in the middle of town?”

Andrews was one of more than 3,000 believers who committed at least 15 minutes to the more than 72-hour effort, enabling the Bible to be read in its entirety from Monday, April 28, at 7 a.m. to Thursday, May 1, at 9 a.m. at various locations across the county. Along with the 1903 Bartow County Courthouse, other host sites for Read Through the Bible included the Adairsville Gazebo, 105 N. Main St., Adairsville; Emerson City Hall, 700 Georgia Highway 293, Emerson; beside three crosses at Euharlee Baptist Church, 1103 Euharlee Road, Euharlee; Kingston Park Pavilion, West Main Street, Kingston; Taylorsville Town Hall Building (Old Fire Station), Euharlee Street, Taylorsville; and White Park Pavilion, Rocky Street N.E., White. Preceding the Read Through the Bible offering, the Bible also was read by inmates at the Bartow County Jail.

Placing an emphasis on the power of praying God’s word, Read Through the Bible and nine Prayer Gatherings on April 27 were promoted by Bartow’s National Day of Prayer Committee online at www.praybartow.com.

“The Reading Through the Bible, which happened in [eight] locations [was held in] every town in Bartow County where there was a mayor and a city council, plus the jail,” said David Franklin, associational missionary for the Bartow Baptist Association and a member of Bartow’s National Day of Prayer Committee. “The National Day of Prayer team called us because they heard about what we were doing and their response was we’ve never heard of anything like this. So not only is it the first time anything [has] been done like this in Bartow County, they don’t know of any time it’s been done nationally, any place. So they’re actually promoting this across the nation.”

For Franklin, who visited many of the Read Through the Bible sites, the offerings were filled with memorable moments, from the threat of inclement weather never taking shape to families and school groups taking part.

“It was a family affair, not just an individual thing,” Franklin said. “It was across generational lines. The oldest member that we had read that we know of was 99 years old. She actually started the Sunday school at Emerson Baptist Church years ago. She could not physically come but they took an iPad and recorded her and came back and played it. So that’s kind of a [unique story]. Another one of the things that has marked this is the emotion of people reading the word of God. When I was around, I would say a large number of people felt an emotion that they didn’t anticipate.

“Another thing that we didn’t see coming was the number of people who would show up and just sit and listen. People would bring their Bibles. They would read along. We probably averaged 10 people at every site just sitting there. At Taylorsville [Wednesday] night, I went by there, [and] there’s 19 people sitting there. ... [We have also received emails] that have said, ‘This is one of the most significant things that I’ve ever been a part of.’ There were people who have thanked us. I’ve been shocked at the number of people that have thanked us.”

The new offerings culminated with Bartow’s National Day of Prayer ceremony Thursday at noon. Held on the steps of the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center in Cartersville, the celebration — drawing more than 1,000 believers across generational, denominational and racial lines — lifted up prayers in particular for local elected and appointed government officials.

Toward the beginning of the National Day of Prayer observance, commemorative Bibles from the Read Through the Bible effort, which contained the participants’ initials, were presented to government officials corresponding to the host sites.

As the chairman of Bartow’s National Day of Prayer Committee, Dr. Jacob T. King with The Church at Liberty Square was highly involved in every segment of Thursday’s celebration and the related events preceding it. At the local National Day of Prayer program, he joined Pastor Joaquin Colon and Bishop Jesse P. Smith in presenting a Bible to and praying specifically for Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor.

“Whether or not one is a Christian, [the Bible] is a document that has shaped the history of our nation,” King said. “It shaped our founding. But, then to believers, we believe it’s the word of God and you begin to see that proclaimed verbally. [With Read Through the Bible], we wanted to bring awareness to God’s word. We feel like we’re living in a day and age where [modern culture is] trying to kind of remove [God’s word].

“... So [the significance of the Bible is] connected with that. But I think it’s also connected people with not just the history but with the future. I was amazed at the number of pictures that [I] have seen come across my desk of teenagers [participating] and, of course, they’re all reading the Bible on their phones. ... I don’t know of [any other book that] has the power of bringing the young, the old, every race, nationality [and] socioeconomic class [together]. I can’t imagine people standing out in the rain to read any [other book].”

King continued, “For us, it only underscores what Timothy said when he said, ‘All Scripture is given under the inspiration of God.’ That word literally means God breathes. So we think there is something significant about this book that sets it apart from any other book. It is a book that throughout history, it’s been burned, it’s been banned [and] kings and nations throughout its history have tried to remove it and yet there’s some reason why it’s still the best-selling book in all the world, in all of history. There’s some reason that it remains, and we believe it’s a fulfillment of Scripture.”

Along with National Day of Prayer and the events preceding the event being promoted on www.praybartow.com, Franklin said the website in the future will serve as a central location for the community to gather in prayer.

“I think one of the things that a lot of people are asking is, ‘Why?’” Franklin said. “‘Why would you read the Bible publicly? Why not just read it inside the church?’ In Isaiah 55:10-11 the passage [reads], ‘God said his word will not return void, it will accomplish what he’s purposed.’ So [we believe] ... God’s word has power. So what we’re trying to do is be a blessing to our community. We want to [help] the areas in our community, where there’s wickedness or where there’s problems.

“We believe God’s word is going to have power to change those things. We’re going to tear down a stronghold of addiction and replace it with righteousness. We’re going to tear down where there’s racism and people that don’t love each other and respect each other and replace it with what God’s word says. So the continuation of this [effort] is the praybartow.com website will become ... the prayer website for the body of Christ in Bartow County, so that we can begin to pray God’s word specifically over some of these things in our community that need to be improved or changed. ... We’re not trying to shove religion down anybody’s throat. What this is is we’re trying to do something positive in our community, and we think we’re going to see some better days ahead in Bartow County.”