STAND UP

Interview with Lance Glaze of
God's Word for the World


by Jeffrey Hillard
June 2008

 

God’s Word for the World: An Organization That Reaches Persecuted, Incarcerated, Disenfranchised, and Special-Needs People in Many Countries

Lance Glaze directs the non-profit organization, God’s Word for the World, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, a global distributor of the popular Comic Book Bible, as well as other Bibles and various other Christian readers. The organization also partners with other organizations whose efforts to minister to and care for individuals’ physical and spiritual needs internationally are timely and innovative. Many of these organizations support pastors, missionaries, and ministries in predominantly third-world or even communist countries. The ingenious Comic Book Bible has made its way into areas of human persecution, providing individuals with scripture that is vital to their survival. God’s Word for the World also sponsors a number of orphan children in India, Latin America, the Philippines, and elsewhere. RED! the breakthrough ‘zine spoke with Mr. Glaze on June 26, 2008 about his ministry and its influential worldwide outreach.


God’s Word for the World is now a well-founded organization and yet it continues to grow in its outreach. How did your organization start?

We started God’s Word for the World based on some needs of children here in the Cincinnati area. Our goal was just to supply a Bible to these children – just go door to door and give them away. And so we settled on a Bible called the Comic Book Bible, which is actually a picture book Bible, a very beautiful edition of about 260 pages, and children just love it. We would just ask people for donations at our church, and people would send us money, and when we had enough, we would just buy these Bibles. Then, on a Saturday morning, we would knock on doors, and give them away. No one said “No.” Everyone wanted one of these Bibles. In fact, we’d have folks “chase” us down on the street and say, “Hey, you were just on that street over there. Are you coming on our street to give them away, too?”

Well, we did this for two or three years, and it was very successful. We ultimately went into 21 locations in the Cincinnati area, going door to door. But, it wasn’t long before God increased that vision. Rather than just dealing with children, we began seeing a need for Comic Book Bibles around the world. We originally had incorporated God’s Word for Our Cities. We went one step further; we added God’s Word for Our World. We started meeting contacts across the world and began supplying Bibles to them.

Essentially, what we try to do is work with the people already in these countries – typically indigenous people – and very frequently ministries in the U.S. Rather than re-invent the wheel, we try to supply finances to these ministries and they supply Bibles. There are many ways of supplying Bibles through their contacts. In some cases, you just send in the Bibles. In other instances, you have to smuggle them in. Some work through ministries already embedded in that country.

We actually work the most with India, thanks to my contact and friendship with Dr. Joseph Paturi who is Indian (www.josephpaturi.com). He is on my board of directors. He has so many contacts, one of which is Dr. B.K. Pramanik, General Secretary of the Bible Society of India (www.bsind.org). The Bible Society of India prints more Bibles than any other single organization in the world. In China, for instance, when we supply Bibles there to house churches, we work with an organization that gets them in through the back door. The printing (for those Bibles in China) is done by the Bible Society of India. They can print them much cheaper than one can buy a Bible here, in the U.S. People all over the world use the Bible Society of India because they do such great work and such economical work. Many times we just finance the need in India, as Dr. Paturi contacts Dr. Pramanik to fill the need.


Still, your facilitating the distribution of these materials is very key, right?  The channels for individuals even in India to receive Bibles have been inspired by God’s Word for the World’s efforts.

Recently, I figured out some statistics concerning what we have done. When we started getting into other Bible distribution, in addition to the Comic Book Bible, we almost gave up the Comic Book Bible because we didn’t see the great need for it. But, God had another idea in mind. In fact, we have received permission from the publishers of the Comic Book Bible to translate that Bible into languages in India in order to supply it to children in India. We haven’t yet come up with the finances to do that, but we have carte blanche to supply the Comic Book Bible in the Indian languages. We’ve already had one translated into Telugu. It is in print. We’re trying to supply 20,000 Bibles to children where Telugu is spoken.

Now, the statistics: we’ve supplied 21,280 Comic Book Bibles mostly to children of the Cincinnati area. Working with our partners, we have supplied 76,345 Bibles and 2,216 New Testament editions in other languages around the world – the majority going to India. But we’ve also supplied Bibles to Panama, Mexico, China, Turkey, various countries in Africa, Iraq, Russia, Korea, El Salvador, and Venezuela. 66,000 of these Bibles we’ve supplied to India because of our contacts in India. The amazing thing is that, even though we’ve supplied this many Bibles to India, there are more children in India between the ages of six and 12 than there are people living in the United States. We’re talking over 300,000,000 children in India alone between the ages of six and 12. So, you can see we’re hardly touching the hem of the garment, so to speak.


Your other contacts in other countries are extraordinary, too.

We have our great contacts in Africa, such as Johan Gous and Steven Loots – and their ministry (Hopebuilders International Ministries, www.hope-builders.org) – and they have a Bible supply program called Bible for Believers. We are reaping a harvest in Africa now, based on all the sacrifices and diligent work and faithfulness of missionaries there over the years. You can actually often go into a village somewhere in Africa, especially south of the Saharan Desert, and walk down the street and start preaching, and people will gather around to listen. Johan jokes that you can start a church over the weekend.

What the people really need, though, is discipleship – to know the next and future steps of following Christ. They need to be discipled, and as such, they need Bibles in order to be discipled. There are over 300,000,000 Christians in the world that don’t have a Bible. 80,000,000 Christians are just in China alone, and close to 200,000,000 in Africa. They need the scriptures to be encouraged.


Over the years, you have published a monthly prayer calendar. You often emphasize prayer for individuals who are persecuted or incarcerated somewhere in the world. You’ve known people and organizations that have often worked to help these persecuted individuals. What current insights do you have into how these persecuted or imprisoned people are possibly being helped?

One of the things that have really amazed us is the dedication of Christians around the world. Sometimes, we in America don’t often think of Christians around the world as being the same as us. We’re so used to our affluence and having things basically the way we want them, that we think we’re suffering, of course, when any little thing goes wrong. But what we’ve found around the world is that there is more Christian persecution going on now than at any time in history. In the last decade, there were more people that died because of their faith than in the previous 2,000 years combined since Christ came onto our earth.

We have contacts with Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com), and we come into contact with representatives of the organization. What they often find is that an incarcerated or persecuted individual’s family has great needs. Often the government – perhaps because either it’s a communist state or because of its beliefs toward religion – puts the breadwinner, the main income supplier, in jail; perhaps it’s the preacher or a main church official. Thus the family’s income is jeopardized or cut off. Some organizations we’re connected to deal with these kinds of situations where the family is in dire need.

One of the stories that comes to my mind has to do with the founder of Voice of the Martyrs, the late Richard Wurmbrand. He was the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family and born in Bucharest, Romania. For his eventual Christian beliefs and ministry, he was arrested by the Red Army and spent 14 years in prison in Romania. He was beaten and tortured while in prison. But he never lost hope or his faith. His family was told he was dead. His wife was also thrown into prison and their child left on the streets. They persecuted anyone who would help their child, Michael. Wurmbrand’s classic book, among many of his books, is called Tortured for Christ.

The end result is that, when he got out of prison, he was told he would die if he told his story. Well, Wurmbrand came to the United States and immediately began to tell his story. He founded Voice of the Martyrs. One of the joys my wife Nancy and I had was, two years ago, we went to a conference in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, U.S. headquarters of Voice of the Martyrs, and got to meet Richard’s son, Michael Wurmbrand. Two of the best programs Voice of the Martyrs has is taking care of the families of persecuted Christians and supplying scriptures to people. This is one of the great ministries in the entire world.


Are there any organizations with which you’ve come into contact that maybe work exclusively with persecuted or incarcerated individuals in southeast Asia or other countries.

Christian Freedom International (www.christianfreedom.org) is working with incarcerated or persecuted individuals in Burma, and there’s of course Voice of the Martyrs. Those are two that I know fairly well. There’s not an enormous amount of persecution in Africa that I know of. Of course there is a lot of it in places like the Middle East. A lot of organizations that we work with are secret in their effort to help individuals or communities. For instance, when we work with a group that has, in the past, supplied Bibles to Iraq, much of the time they’re printed in Egypt first and then secretly taken into Iraq. Now, however, the climate’s changed since the war began. It’s not as difficult to get Bibles into Iraq.


God’s Word for the World does so much more than distribute Bibles. What else have you done in recent years?

As soon as you start supplying Bibles to people, you become aware of the great needs. Three years ago Nancy and I went to India with an organization called World Help (www.worldhelp.net), and we were in ten different cities looking at their ministries. One of the things that blew us away was noticing so many areas in which to minister. For instance, we spent time in a leper colony, where a young Christian man named Joseph is ministering in that area. We found another young man who had been left at a train station, along with his brother and sister, when they were very young. All three were raised in a Christian school. What this young man has done is start a Christian school. He’s finding children like himself who are living in the streets. They were up to 25 students when we were there. Consequently, God’s Word for the World has gotten involved with children’s homes.

We’re working with justice ministries around the world that are working not only for persecuted individuals, but also in areas where justice issues are critical. For instance, slavery issues. There is more slavery today than at any time in the history of the world. There’s an estimated 27,000,000 slaves in the world today – people who do not have control over their own lives or the lives of their families. And we’re working with organizations that help these people.

We support a children’s home in India that just graduated five girls who have gone into the nursing field and two more who are planning to go into nursing when they graduate next year. This is quite a thrill for my wife to see, since she was a nurse for many years. We support 11 different children’s homes in three different countries. We eventually hope to help supply all these children with the scriptures that we haven’t supplied already.

In the meantime, when you see these great needs, you just have to work with them if you have the ability to do so. God has blessed us so much in America with all that we have, so we feel we have to be sharing this. We have people that contribute to this ministry on a regular basis, and we’re constantly seeking more contributors because of the international needs. We turn any funding right around and use it to help supply scriptures to these individuals and places I’ve described, or to supply basic needs to some of these homes.

One thing we never want to do is throw up our hands and say, there are just “too many of them out there in need,” or “we can’t help them all.” God is able to take care of the needs around the world.

My favorite illustration-story is the one of the starfish. A man was walking on the beach one morning and saw a young man not far from him. The young man was picking up something and throwing it into the ocean. The man said, “What are you doing?” The young man said, “When the tide comes in, it brings in all these starfish. And when the tide goes back out, the starfish are left on this sand, and they’ll die if they just lie here.”

The man said, “Young man, there are millions of miles of seashore around, and you’re just throwing a few starfish back out there. You’re just not going to make a difference doing this.”  Without a word, the young man reached down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the ocean. He said to the older man, “It made a difference to that one.”

Well, that’s what we’re trying to do with God’s Word for the World. We’re trying to make a difference one person at a time.

To contact Lance Glaze or learn more about God’s Word for World, write: God’s Word for the World, 8657 Eldora Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236, U.S.A.

Lance Glaze

Lance Glaze