Outreach in My Community - Australia

Jennifer & Wayne Oldman (Maryborough, Queensland, Australia)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Jennifer and her husband Wayne Oldman are members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Maryborough Queensland Australia, a congregation belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia (ELSA) and a member of the CELC. Wayne is the Synod and Congregational Secretary. He is a motor mechanic by trade but currently working as a Spare Parts Manager. Jennifer was trained as a Primary School Teacher but is now doing Pastoral Care volunteer work at a local nursing home.

FAITH COMES BY HEARING

We have seen for ourselves the value of listening to God's Word daily. At first, we started listening to the Bible on tape, then as technology advanced we moved to using CD's, then MP3 and Bible apps. Finding it so beneficial, we started looking for ways to encourage others to read and/or listen to God's word daily.

Bible App

I (Jennifer) have the Bible app from bible.com (YouVersion) on my apple iPhone. It can be downloaded on any phone or computer device. I prefer to use it on my iPhone as I daily message the "Verse of the Day" to a number of people. The inspiration for me to do this was Hebrews 3:13: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today'."

It's amazing how God uses this daily passage of Scripture to bring comfort and encouragement to different people when they most need it. Occasionally, someone will let me know how much they really appreciate receiving the Scripture passage. Here are some of the comments I've received:

"Every single day the text is a blessing, Jenny. Don't ever doubt that."
"Such an encouragement, Jenny."
"Just wanted to let you know what it means for me to receive the text of the day."
"Thanks needed this one."

Recently, a member from our congregation who receives the "Verse of the Day" told me that she highlights the verse/s in a spare Bible of hers. She has noticed a few patterns in doing this. Sometimes some of the verses have been used before. Also a number of verses tend to come from the same book and chapter of the bible. Another member told me he usually gets my message when he's in the staff room at work. Quite often he'll read it out loud. Sometimes Wayne and he will use it as an opportunity to witness.

Occasionally, I'll use the Bible app to SMS or email a Scripture to someone who needs special encouragement — for example someone who is sick, facing an operation, or celebrating a birthday. I also use the Bible app as a portable Bible which is easily available when I don't have a print Bible with me.

Bible.com is available free on the internet. It has a search tool, Reading Plans and Devotionals and even videos to watch. If you so desire, you can highlight Scripture passages, bookmark pages and write notes about certain passages on your device. You can share what you want and even connect to other people and share your thoughts. It enables you to enjoy the Bible anywhere at any time of the day.

Currently it is available in 1,130 languages and 1,566 Bible versions. Some translations are also available as audible Bibles. Bible.com requires an active internet service. However, if you lose your network connection it reverts to a saved standard Bible translation. You can download a Bible to read offline but not all Bibles are available offline. You can force your phone to use the downloaded Bible versions by putting your device on airplane mode. The photos below show how this can be done. Unfortunately, I don't believe bible.com would meet the needs of people in countries where Christians are being persecuted. The app bible.is would be a better solution for those people, since it permits downloading the audio files to a device for listening offline.

The photographs below show how you can easily choose different languages and translations as well as the book and chapter you want to read and / or listen to.

e-mail

A man who receives the "Verse of the Day" from me asked me if I would e-mail them instead so he could either print them out or forward them onto family and friends. Some people from our church daily receive the WELS devotion by email. My brother likes to forward these on to anyone he feels the devotion might benefit. I also do this occasionally.

Music

Mobile phones, i-pads and computers are also great ways to play music. I personally find Christian music very calming to the soul and relaxing. The chaplain at the nursing home where I do volunteer work uses her iPhone, along with some small speakers, to play music at meetings and services, and to minister to palliative care residents.

iPads

I (now it's Wayne) firmly believe that "the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12) Having access to cheap iPads, I had a strong desire to place iPads with the Bible on them into the hands of other people.

I installed The Listener's MP3 Bible, narrated by Max McLean, onto some iPads and distributed them to about ten people, members of our church and fellow work mates. When I handed them out I told the person that I wanted to see what they thought about using the iPad to listen to the Bible. The Listener's Bible comes with four easy-to-listen-to MP3 discs.

The response has been varied but positive. In one family the children were eager to listen to it as the iPad was a novelty. Their foster child would come into their bedroom early in the morning so she could have some quiet time to listen to some Bible stories by herself. A single lady who suffers with poor health and is a new Christian uses hers daily and you can see her growing in her faith and knowledge of the Scripture. I gave one to another lady who was in hospital following cancer surgery. Her husband was with her at the time and since he wasn't a Christian I wondered how he would react to her being given an audible bible. He was like a child with a new toy and wanted to learn how to use this iPad — he had no previous experiences with such devices. They were both very grateful for the gift.

I like to play it when I'm getting ready for the day as I find it puts my mind in the right mental head space for the day ahead, and when I'm going to sleep at night.

It's great for people who don't like reading or can't read. Some people have had a desire to share it with others as they can see the value in it. Others have returned them saying they want to buy their own copy of the CD so they can install it on their own device. Most people find it easy to use and listen to. It just keeps on playing until you switch it off. I have found that people will listen to the Bible rather than read it. It encourages people to use the Bible in different ways and at different times.

I understand using iPads to share the Audible Bible would not be the most cost effective way for most people. However, I chose iPads as a friend of mine has his own business in buying and selling second hand computers and related devices.

We sincerely pray that our presentation has encouraged you (if you aren't already doing so) to use some of these devices to daily read and/or listen to God's Word and to consider using them as witnessing tools.

"SO THEN FAITH COMES BY HEARING, AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD." Romans 10:17


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Discussion

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Julia Wagenknecht (MLP Missionary Wife) 2017-10-22 4:59:34pm
G'day Jennifer and Wayne! Thank you for sharing how you both the Bible.com as a witnessing tool. I love the app! It offers many ways to for users to read or listen to God's Word according to their needs and preferences. May God continue to bless your efforts!
- Former student of Macquarie University in Sydney. ;)
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-10-22 7:46:21pm
Yes, it does indeed! All Glory to God that He can reach so many people through this App!
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Julia 2017-10-24 10:39:39am
Just discovered their Bible for Kids App. My toddlers love it!
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-10-25 8:42:59pm
Yes, I noticed that just this week also. Do you know what age range the Bible App. for kids is?
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Julia 2017-10-28 10:55:08pm
I am not sure of the targeted age range, but my 2 and 3 year olds love it with the help of mom. :) They listen to the story and then "play" with the characters on the screen. I love the pop up questions too. I think it could be good review for all ages! :)
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-10-29 11:14:37pm
Thanks for this information Julia. Judy Kuster provides a lot of additional information about other Bible resources that are available for children online in her 2016 spring edition GOWM presentation.
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Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2017-10-28 12:14:47am
That's a great app; I'm a toddler at heart because I love to play with it too. Check out the multitude of free online Bible resources in Judy's presentation in last year's GOWM at https://2016.gowm.org/sessions/kusterj/
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-10-29 11:08:18pm
Thank-you Tom. Judy presents a lot of good information in her presentation. I didn't realize there was so many Bible resources available for children online.
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Nathanael Goelzer (Martin Luther College) 2017-11-01 6:13:39pm
The Oldman's,

Thank you for your thoughts! I enjoyed the pictures that you posted for extra help. I also enjoyed hearing about your personal experiences with the bible not in its traditional form.

"In one family the children were eager to listen to it as the iPad was a novelty. Their foster child would come into their bedroom early in the morning so she could have some quiet time to listen to some Bible stories by herself." This section very about children using the iPads very interesting. I have a younger brother who loves to play on our family iPad and who I believe would listen to the bible if it was on the iPad just an excuse to use the iPad! LIke you said it is a "novelty" to them.

I do have one question for you. Do you believe that churches should invest more money in this sort of technology? Whether it's getting iPad's in the church for members and visitors to use, or getting their own app?

Thanks again for your contribution to the conference!

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Wayne Oldman 2017-11-02 1:03:07am
Thank-you for your comments and expression of interest in our contribution.
Yes, I do believe churches should invest more money in this sort of technology or at least encourage its members to use Bible Apps. etc. I believe the listener's Bible is a great evangelism tool. From my experience it engages people. Once they've heard it they want to get their own. It opens people's eyes to what is available out there to hear God's Word. Putting some iPads into the church library would be a great way to get your congregation (and visitors) involved in hearing the Word of God. It's another way of getting people engaged in and wanting to hear God's Word. "Faith comes from hearing". God does the work.
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-02 9:37:43pm
Hello Nathanael,
Just a couple more thoughts to add to my husband's reply.
I've only just become aware that there are Bible Apps available for children now. I don't know how old your younger brother is but bible.com has an App for children between the ages of 3-10 at a guess (give or take a little. The younger ages would of course need adult supervision.) This App features touch activated animated storybooks plus games and activities and is available at www.bible.com/kids. Bible.is KIDZ has 7 illustrated stories at this stage which have games for children to play. If your brother is in his teens then a regular audible bible (or Bible App downloaded on an iPad) would suit him better.
As to using iPads in church, a member of our congregation uses his laptop in bible study (but it could easily be an iPad.) Whilst it doesn't take long to find the book and chapter it takes a little longer with scrolling to find the verse/s you are looking for. Plus it would be better not to use the audible version in a bible study class. (It can only play a whole chapter.) I find it's far easier to use a regular Bible in group bible studies. I've also seen a Pastor using his iPad during a funeral for presumably sermon notes. But I can to see more use and value in having them available in the church library.
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Emily Ash (Martin Luther College) 2017-11-01 7:39:16pm
Mr. and Mrs. Oldman,

I absolutely loved your post and desire to share God's Word with others! Your words and actions are serving as an inspiration to me.

In this day and age, technology is constantly around us. What a great blessing it is to be able to share the Bible through simple websites and apps. Mrs. Oldman, I love the way you share the Bible verse of the day with others who you think may especially need it at a given time. I know that for myself, receiving a Bible verse when I'm going through a rough time would be a great comfort to me.

I can relate to implementing technology with God's Word as well. While I was teaching 3-4 year olds in Sunday School, we often used the internet to look up cute Bible songs and videos to go with our lessons, or we could often find fun coloring pages that were about the Old Testament stories we went through. Through this experience, I can appreciate the value of technology when used for enhancing our study of the Bible.

I find the idea of using iPads to listen to the Bible very creative and fun! Like you said, it is something that switches up the regular way of reading scripture. Do you think we should use these apps in schools more, or should we continue to teach our students the old fashioned way of reading the Bible? Or should we implement both?

Thank you for sharing your experiences and ideas!
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Wayne & Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-02 1:24:54am
Thank-you Emily for your encouraging remarks.
Sending out Bible passages is a very minor thing you can do that has GREAT impact on the recipient. After all, it is God who does the work through His Word in reaching His children.
I think iPads (or similar devices) should be used in schools as a way to engage the students. Anything that will encourage people to hear the Word of God and get involved in the Bible. However, I still believe that people should know how to read their Bibles. So definitely both ways should be encouraged and taught in schools. The great thing about Bible Apps. like bible.com is that you can read and listen to the Word at the same time.
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-02 1:29:02am
Listening and Reading are both skills that children should be taught at school and what better way to teach them but in using Scripture!
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-02 9:42:58pm
Emily you might find the Bible.com App for Kids a good tool when you are teaching Sunday School. Check out what I've written to Nathanael in the above reply.
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Kyle Wilson (Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN) 2017-11-02 11:03:10am
Thank you for your continued encouragement and work in the family of God's church, Mr. and Mrs. Oldman,

When you said, "It's great for people who don't like reading or can't read." it caused me to pause and reflect. An increasing trend in the culture of younger generations is the desire for immediate and handy resources. Thus, less and less people want to read and dig into books to find information, rather they would like to have it at their finger tips with the simple search of a key word. I had not even considered the surprising percentage of the world population that does not have the adequate ability to read and comprehend biblical texts. The variety of tools found in the Bible app are a great resource. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have taken this resource for granted. I think this trend is somewhat consistent among my peers as well. For as much time as I waste scrolling mindlessly on my phone, I could have read the Bible a dozen times through. I hope to re-purpose this time into digging deeper into scriptures and meditating on God's word on a more continuous basis.
I wonder, partially because I am not very familiar with all of the tools on the Bible app, if there is a personal journal tool in which an individual might be able to take notes and reflections on sections. It would be cool to be able to see your past reflections if a certain passage you have studied before comes up as the verse of the day.
Thanks again for your work in the harvest fields of the Lord. I pray that your work may yield fruits and that you both will always have ample encouragement and support in your ministries.
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-02 11:32:26pm
Hello Kyle,
Thank-you for comments and especially for your prayers.
Yes, it does give you the ability to make personal notes for yourself using the Bible.com App or you can share your thoughts and reflections with others you connect with. I'm like you, I haven't used all the different tools available with this App. I just know what's available for use.
As for 'digging deeper into scriptures and meditating on God's word' why don't you find a friend/s you can do this with. I'm sure you would find it very rewarding. You would encourage each other, grow in your faith together and build a strong bond of friendship.
God bless your studies in His Word.
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Joe Graumann (Martin Luther College ) 2017-11-02 12:02:52pm
Jennifer and Wayne,
Thank you for your presentation! It is amazing all the means that God gives his people in order to hear his Word. I have never really used audio tapes or any form of listening to the Bible before but the benefits you have listed sure has me thinking about using them now. I attend school at Martin Luther College and the life of a college student can get pretty busy at times. My busy schedule can become an excuse for not reading the Bible. I love the idea of listening to the Bible in the morning when I am getting read for my day. In this way I can save time and start my day off the best way possible by hearing God's loving Word. I would love to hear more about your churches and missions in Australia. Again thank you for your presentation and I hope and pray your ministry continues to prosper.
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-03 12:05:44am
Hello Joe,
Yes, it amazing what means God provides for His Word to reach the farthermost parts of the world. There is so much available for us to use 'to go and make disciples of all nations' in this day and age that you can see the days of His return drawing ever closer.
It is very easy for us to make the excuse of being too busy to read the Bible. So it comes down to a matter of prioritizing. The audible bible makes it possible to do a couple things at the same time especially with the mundane tasks of life e.g. whilst doing household chores, driving, exercising, doing some assignments. Yes, sometimes you do get distracted but you can easily replay what you were listening to.
Our church body is very small but God has blessed us with a faithful Pastor who has really helped us to understand the Gospel message and grow in our faith and understanding of the Bible. It is up to us as members of the Body of Christ and in response to what God has done for us, to each do our part in spreading the Good News.
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Don Moldstad (BethanyLutheran College) 2017-11-06 11:38:38am
Jennifer and Wayne, Thanks for this nice article. It is a great reminder of how a simple thing can be used in such a powerful way. I often wonder if in heaven we will discover that some of these seemingly tiny things were the very things that kept someone in the faith. My grandfather used to say (I paraphrase): "Everyone wants to do really big things for the church, but it is actually the little things that usually have the most effect."
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Wayne & Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-06 11:44:29pm
Thank-you Don for your comments. We pray that God would use our efforts (even though they be small) for His Kingdom purposes. Our desire is to encourage every Christian to daily use God's Word to gain strength for the journey.
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Emily Boyd (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-07 7:34:41pm
Thank you for sharing this information about Bible.com app! I would love to share this with my home church as a way to receive God's Word everyday. This is a great tool to reach today's generation.
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-08 12:59:51am
My pleasure! Please do share. I'm sure they'll appreciate it! Enjoy!
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Emily Boyd (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-10 11:05:52am
Is there any other Bible apps that you would recommend?
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-10 10:07:28pm
Bible.com is the only app I've used. However, Tom Kuster likes the bible.is app. (I've mentioned it in my presentation.) You can download both free of charge over the internet.
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Elyse Kipfer (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-12 12:20:18am
I found your presentation very interesting. I am traditional college students and I look at technology differently because I have been raised with technology like cell phones and personal computers. I am glad that the YouVersion app and the Audio verse have been helpful in sharing the Gospel where you volunteer, work, and in your Christian community. I have been using the YouVersion app for five to six years now and I have been able to find several Bible plans that I enjoy. I have been concerned about always listening to the Bible because I want to give God my full attention when I am in his Word. After reading both our your presentations I am reassured that being in God's Word glorifies God no matter if it was read or hear. I am glad that you both are enjoying the technology and share the Gospel. I think God is doing incredible works when you both share God's Word through technology. Furthermore, the people are encouraged and want to listen and grow in God's understanding and truth. Sharing the Gospel with one person seems to have a snow ball effect of them sharing with even more people. Thank you both for sharing God's Gospel through technology and sharing your experience through this presentation.
God bless you both.
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-12 7:53:55pm
Hello Elyse,
Thank-you very much for sharing your comments and thoughts on our presentation.
I understand your concern about listening to the Bible and giving your full attention to what you are hearing as I've thought about such things myself and even spoken to my Pastor about it.
It is easy to get distracted when you are listening to the Bible as you work or drive, or to fall asleep whilst the Bible is playing. But this is Okay. We are still hearing God's word on a subconscious level if we fall asleep. Even in church during the sermon, our thoughts can wander but ultimately, we are still thinking about God and applying what we're hearing to our daily lives. However, it is also good to take the time just to sit, ponder and study God's Word.
God looks at our heart and our motives in doing anything. God tells us in Philippians 4:8 that "if anything is excellent or praiseworthy to think about such things." What could be better than filling our minds with God's Word? The important thing is to do this as often as we can and however we can, for this keeps us in communication with God.
I'm so pleased to read that you are already using the YouVersion Bible app. May God bless your hearing of His Word so you can be a blessing to others.
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Emily Reitz (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-12 2:40:32pm
Thank you for sharing the information in your presentation! I too use a Verse of the Day platform daily and find that it brings joy and motivation to my daily routine. I especially appreciate how relevant the verses can be in my life and the trials that may present themselves. I must say that it's so wonderful and refreshing having a media platform that daily reminds me of God's love for us and encourages me to remain immersed in His word. However, do you believe that we must take care when using these apps to ensure that people who are using a "Verse of the Day" do not take the meaning of these verses out of context? It can be so easy as those who study the Bible regularly to forget that not everyone has been taught the context of the verses which are being shared. Should Pastors and teachers make it a point to bring this to light within their congregations?
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-13 10:26:05pm
Hello Emily,
I'm so pleased to read that you daily use a media platform with a "Verse of the Day" and that you find the verses to be a joy as well as an encouragement and relevant to your life.
I understand your concern that people could take the meaning of the verses out of context. The people I'm sharing the bible passages with are all Christians. I encourage them to read / listen to the whole chapter in which the "Verse of the Day" comes from as I, myself do. As I said in my presentation, my reason for sending out a daily Bible reading is to encourage them in their daily walk with God just as you find it an encouragement to yourself.
Yes, I absolutely agree that Pastors / teachers should make it a point of training their members to ensure they read Scripture passages in context.
May God bless your hearing of His Word so you can be a blessing to others.
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Hannah Mills (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-12 9:33:40pm
My brother has Down Syndrome and cannot necessarily read on his own. We were introduced to the Bible app on his IPad by his speech teacher who used to go to school with me. He listens to it all the time! I think that this is a great app for those with special needs because they can listen to it like you had pointed out. Now, he can listen to it whenever he wants and does not have to wait for one of us to read it to him. Would you recommend this to other families that have loved ones with disabilities?
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Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-13 10:46:01pm
Hello Hannah,
How wonderful to read about your Down Syndrome brother using a Bible app on his iPad. Thanks for sharing this. He's obviously enjoying it if he is using it all the time!
I have had no experience of anyone with a disability using a Bible app. However, your brother's response in using his iPad to hear God's Word is a recommendation in itself to families with disabled loved ones to use it. So, yes, I would. God's Word is for ALL people and all families should be engaged in actively using God's Word whether they have disabled children or not. "Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God".
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Eric Pascutti, Joe Hanson, Kyle Baron (Wisconsin Luther College) 2017-11-13 12:19:56pm
Mr. and Mrs. Oldman,

It was a pleasure reading your article and learning more about this app Bible.com. Being in a generation today filled with smartphones and technology, I think this is awesome that they are making strides in technology. I am a regular phone user with downloading apps and such, and I had no idea this was even out there for people to access. I believe
this will encourage younger people to be more inclined to use this way because it's technology and it makes reading or hearing the Bible easier while it's right at our fingertips compared to the standard of just reading from a normal Bible. This is important that are adapting to the changing generations and use of technology. I would highly recommend it to mentioned at some point throughout the congregation during the mass service to encourage members of the church to read and be affiliated with the Bible as much as they can. This will be especially appealing to the younger generation members.
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Wayne & Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-13 11:02:48pm
Hello Eric, Joe and Kyle,
Thank-you very much for your comments.
Yes, it is a great tool to encourage the younger generation who are always on their 'phones' to hear God's Word. But I've found, it's not just the younger generation that enjoy using this app.
We pray that you would let other people know about Bible.com so more people can enjoy this form of engaging in God's Word.
Thanks and God bless your efforts!
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Javion Morgan (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-13 11:45:18pm
This is great. My parents have a non-profit organization in Florida of the United States and use the same out reach resources for people and it gives then unlimited access to the word!
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Wayne & Jennifer Oldman 2017-11-14 1:54:16am
Hello Javion,
How wonderful to hear that your parents are doing the same outreach work that we are!
May God bless their efforts for His Kingdom purposes!