Get set for another challenge – with rewards here and in eternity

Bible Society’s 20/20 Challenge is on!

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught Australians, it’s that when we work together, we can overcome challenges. And so it seems the perfect time for Bible Society Australia (BSA) to launch its new 20/20 Challenge.

Bible Society is calling on Aussies to challenge themselves while helping others to “open the Bible”, both here and overseas. The aim is to raise $80,000 by 30 June.

“All of our projects have urgent needs.” – Bible Society Australia

“We need as many as possible to sign up for this challenge,” says Bible Society’s project and relationship manager Belinda Faulks.

“Really, all of our projects have urgent needs.

“There is a constant need for more Bibles in South African prisons – we sometimes have to say we have no more. Pakistan and Nicaragua are two very poor countries that are continuing to operate projects through the pandemic – both need more funding. And of course, there is a huge need for Bibles in China too.”

And here in Australia, Bible Society still supports bushfire affected communities. There is also an ongoing need to translate the Bible for First Peoples, so they can read God’s word in their heart language.

To get involved in the 20/20 Challenge, individuals and groups (including church, school and youth groups, or organisations) pledge to complete a 20-minute challenge for every $20 raised. Challenge activities can include reading the Bible, running, cycling or any activity participants would like to challenge themselves in.

Those who complete their personal challenge activities before 30 June go in the running to win prizes from Koorong and the Centre for Public Christianity (although participants do have until the end of 2020 to complete the challenge).

With registrations now open, a number of BSA staff are already getting stuck into their challenge activity and fundraising.

The triathlete and historian
Jonathan Harris in triathalon training mode

Jonathan Harris in triathlon training mode

Jonathan Harris – head of BSA church and community relations – is using the 20/20 Challenge to further his training for a full triathlon in September (which involves a one kilometre swim, 30 kilometre cycle and eight kilometre run).

“The reason I started doing this is to bring awareness to Bible translation and distribution around the world,” says Harris.

“I wanted to see as many as possible stay inspired by the Word of God during lockdown, and staying fit and faithful while they were restricted in isolation.”

Harris is also greatly inspired by the many stories of “overcomers” within the Bible Society itself.

“We have a history of overcomers who face any disadvantage to provide the Word of God to people,” says Harris, who – on top of his triathlon training – has committed to sharing one of these Bible Society stories on social media each day of the challenge.

“I want to raise awareness of people who are crying out for Bibles all around the world.” – Johnathan Harris

One such person is John Ansell from Kirrawee in southern Sydney, who Harris describes as “a man of courage and an overcomer.”

“I went to his funeral near the end of 2019, where I learned he went completely blind at the age of 21.

“When he turned 33, he decided to take up cycling. He absolutely loved cycling – and rode over 20,000 kms across Australia – with many captains on tandem bikes – to raise awareness and over $30,000 for ‘Bike for Bibles’.

“John was also a Careline telephone counsellor for over 22 years and a volunteer at church for ten years. He was the first person to carry the Olympic Torch into Sydney for the 2000 Olympics.”

Then there is Aboriginal preacher Gabarla Minimere, an Alawa man from the Northern Territory, who was known as Barnabas Roberts (1898-1974).

Harris was introduced to Minimere’s story by Rev Dr John Harris (BSA’s linguist historian), who wrote about Minimere: “He became a tireless evangelist, walking to places hundreds of kilometres away with his strong but gentle message of faith in Jesus.”

“His lifelong ministry was all the more remarkable in that when young, his foot had been crushed against a stockyard fence by a wild horse. He walked with a very pronounced limp on a permanently bandaged foot.

“He preached the gospel wherever Aboriginal people gathered – on riverbanks, outstations and cattle stations and to the long-grass people of the town camps. Barnabas’s preaching style … was clear, persuasive but gentle, based on the Bible and always included the engaging retelling of a ‘Jesus story’.”

Through the 20/20 Challenge, Jonathan says he and his family hope to raise $2000 towards the total $80,000 goal, as well as “to raise awareness of people who are crying out for Bibles all around the world.”

The Bible readers
Nelson and Virginia Siu

Nelson and Virginia Siu

Husband and wife team Virginia and Nelson Siu will be using the challenge to stimulate their Bible reading.

“We’ve been wanting to read the Bible more for a while now,” says Virginia, BSA’s digital marketing manager. “We usually read the Bible during church and in our community group that meets up during the week, but not often in our own time.

“Even with us staying home with recent social distancing rules, we still haven’t really spent more time reading the word for ourselves. What better way to read the Bible than to do it with others supporting you and knowing that you’re helping other people open the Bible too?”

Nelson is planning on tackling “the tough bits”: “I’m going to focus on reading more of the Old Testament. I read through it a while ago when I first became a Christian, and it did feel rather dry … But I feel if I read the Old Testament now, I will have more insight and more appreciation since I now have a better understanding of God’s big plan and promises.”

The pair has set a fundraising target of $1000.

“We’re just about to start our readings since we’ve had a few donations come through already,” says Virginia. “I’m planning to message a ‘thank you’ note back to those who donate to our fundraising page, letting them know what part of the Bible we read and what insights we had about it.”

The get-fit dad
Rick Pekan shows off his running track

Rick Pekan shows off his running track

Rick Pekan – BSA’s church and community relations representative in WA – has chosen running as his 20/20 Challenge.

A little over a year ago, Rick Pekan joined a men’s exercise group, “Menbeing”, with a few of the dads from his kids’ primary school. (Rick is dad to six children – including four biological kids and two foster kids.) The Menbeing group does running drills, several times each week.

“The 20/20 challenge is a chance for me to engage my friends in my new workout regime and my passion for Bible Society’s mission, particularly with literacy for women and girls throughout the world,” says Rick, who has also set a fundraising target of $1000.

“Many women and girls throughout the world need to read and write … Bible Society’s throughout the world invest in them and use the Bible to empower them to read and write.

“So, I’ve chosen to ask people to support me $20 for 20 minutes of running. I’ll run anyway, but I hope I can both run to be fit and run to help empower others with the opportunities that a privileged person like myself has taken for granted.”

He adds: “My friends and family don’t know me as a workout guy … But God calls us to be fit, so I’m following the calling.”

To sponsor or sign up for the 20/20 Challenge, go to biblesociety.org.au/2020.

To find out more about Bible Society Australia’s projects, visit biblesociety.org.au/our-work.

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