Light to the Home Bible distribution Families own Bible for the first time
NORZAGARAY, Bulacan, Philippines – Residents of North Hills Village in Norzagaray, Bulacan will remember May 24, 2003 for quite some time. For this is the day they received their very first copy of the Bible. North Hills Village is one of several relocation sites of urban poor families who were slum dwellers or squatters.
It was a hot day but some 200 residents of North Hills Village in Norzagaray, Bulacan eagerly trooped to the small multi-purpose hall to witness the dedication of the Ilaw sa Tahanan (Light to the Home) Bibles. The Bibles, distributed by the Philippine Bible Society, were the first copies of the complete Scriptures received by majority of the settlers in the village. All of the 4,500 families in North Hills received a Bible.
The distribution program was jointly initiated with the 12 churches ministering in the area, in partnership with the local Department of Public Works and Highways. These churches belonging to different denomination, one of these was a Catholic Charismatic group, spearheaded the house-to-house distribution activity right after the program.
A Bible of their own, for the first time “Some of our church-goers only have a copy of the New Testament,” said Pastor Elvira Darjuan of King of Resurrection Church who has been ministering in North Hills since 1994. Their church is one of the 12 who spearheaded the event.
“We always encourage our members to read the Scriptures because this is their way of knowing God’s will in their lives. But how can they read God’s Word if they don’t have a copy of the Bible, or if they don’t have the complete Scriptures?” she asked, citing one of their dilemmas in establishing a ministry in North Hills. Because of the event, they were grateful to the Bible Society for allotting copies of the complete Bible in the area.
Some who do have a copy experience difficulty understanding what they read as these are published in translations not easily understood. The Ilaw sa Tahanan Bible uses the Magandang Balita Biblia (Tagalog Popular Version) for easier comprehension of recipients, even those who have not acquired proper secondary education. This specially designed Bible for families also contains articles addressing family and community issues to help families build a godly home and community.
Most, if not all of these families, are living below the poverty line and have been living in slum areas within Metro Manila prior to their relocation in North Hills. Some families have already established their own small business, but a number still work in Metro Manila, some two hours travel away from the resettlement area. They live in a day-to-day existence, unable to provide for their daily needs, let alone a copy of the Bible, the cheapest of which costs P150/copy (US$3).
An appropriate response
In a short message during the program, PBS General Secretary Medarlo Rivera enthusiastically explained that the Ilaw sa Tahanan project emerged as PBS’ response to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA). In her SONA delivered two years ago, President Arroyo disclosed her program to provide 150,000 housing units to poor families over a period of three years. As its part in helping build a godly nation, PBS promised to provide each beneficiary family of this program with a copy of the Bible.
Residents received encouragement in reading the Scriptures through local government officers who graced the occasion. Atty. Tony Ligon, one of the Board Members of the province of Bulacan shared about the importance of God’s Word in his life as a local politician.
“When I was studying law, our professor told us that few people are aware that the laws governing our land are actually based on the Scriptures,” he said. For this matter, he admitted that he finds time to read the Scriptures for guidance and encouraged each of the families to do the same. To promote Bible reading in the area, he further announced that his office would endeavor to raise funds for a Bible contest after six months.
To date, PBS has already distributed about 8,000 copies of Ilaw sa Tahanan Bibles in two resettlement areas after the project launch in December 2002.