Biblical library moves into new home

December 19, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

SHADY GROVE, Pa. - The director of the Biblical Education Center, a free lending library of Christian materials, said she and her husband have raised their two children on books and videos "exactly like the ones we have in here."

"People are amazed that they can come here and get good videos for their family," Laura Justus said. "You can pay an outrageous price for a video (in a store) and there are things in it you don't want your child to see."

The clean, well-lighted library contains about 30,000 items. Each month, Justus said she tries to put 100 newly purchased or donated items into circulation. An average of 250 families and individuals use the library every month, she said.


Wilbur "Buck" and Connie Besecker of Chambersburg, Pa., started the library in 1981 because they felt there were many Christians who could not afford to purchase the Christian books, videos and resources that could help them with their families and ministries. They started with 200 books in a small building in Five Forks. In 1995, the library doubled its available space by moving into the Otterbein Ministry Center in Waynesboro, Pa. The center moved to its present location in the former Grove Credit Union in October.

Justus said the move has boosted the ministry.

"The location puts us at the hub of the four communities we serve - Greencastle (Pa.), Waynesboro, Chambersburg and Hagerstown," she said.

"People are looking for clean, Christian reading," she said. "A lot of the ladies in the community love to read Christian fiction. It's by far our largest section."

She added that "it's nice to come to a place where you don't have to worry about what your children are picking off the shelves. And if someone questions something, we pull it immediately."

While Justus and her staff of 40 volunteers can't review all new acquisitions, they know which publishers put out morally sound material.

When a huge box of videos came in recently, Justus gave them to a mother with four children to preview for moral soundness. "The mother used it as a teaching tool," she said. The children objected to some content, and not all the videos were put into circulation, she said.

"Veggie Tales" and "McGee and Me" are popular with patrons, as are the Moody Bible Institute science videos and stories such as "Christy" and "Little House on the Prairie."

Justus is a home missionary who generates her wages from various churches and individuals. She knows of no other independent Christian libraries.

Nelson Shank, owner of Shank Pallet Recyclers in Shady Grove, owns the former church, built in 1877, that houses the center. He allows the ministry to use it rent-free.

The children's room is decorated with Noah's Ark figurines and snowmen and contains videos, books and cassettes. Most are specifically Christian, but several Mark Twain, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books share shelf space.

Dessie Coffman, a grandmother of 11 who volunteers twice a week at the library, said the place is "a godsend. You can spend 45 minutes in (a video store) trying to find something decent for (children) to look at. When I know I'm going to be baby-sitting, I take a couple of videos home."

The center, at 1542 Buchanan Trail East, is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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