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Residents work to get Bibles out to hurricane survivors

September 10, 2005|By DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

Chip Vinck rested his hand on a stack of Bibles Thursday, hoping it will grow in the days ahead as he and his wife prepare to deliver messages of hope to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Vinck and his wife had just purchased eight cases - about 160 Bibles - from the Christian Light Bookstore in Chambersburg and plan to leave later this month for the Gulf Coast where, like the Old Testament flood, "the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth."

The Vincks believe the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama need spiritual sustenance as much as food and clean water. Connie said she became convinced the mission was necessary after watching a television report on the flooding in which some evacuees spoke about their most urgent needs.

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"There were two things they wanted. They wanted their medication and they wanted their Bible," Connie Vinck said.

"OK Lord, I heard you," she said.

The Fayetteville couple, both federal government retirees, want people to do more than donate new and used copies of the Good Book. Each donation, they said, should include a handwritten personal message of hope and encouragement from the donor.

"We would like them to know the country is praying for them," she said.

Donations of teddy bears and stuffed animals also are being accepted for the Vincks to give to children.

As people find themselves living in shelters for weeks on end, Chip Vinck said despair will be as great a problem among the survivors as disease or homelessness.

At the Christian Light Bookstore on Sheller Avenue, there were 60 more Bibles donated by the store. Employee Denise Lehman said there are two ways customers can participate.

"They can come in and purchase a Bible and get a 30 percent discount on ones they donate," she said. "Or they can bring in a good used Bible ... I've got kids' Bibles at home that they've grown out of and I need to bring in."

Diane Oberholzer, the manager of the Christian Light Bookstore on Valley Mall Road in Hagerstown, said that store also will donate several cases of Bibles "and my staff is going to be donating Bibles as well."

Bible and bear collections also are happening at Antrim Brethren In Christ Church at 24 Kauffman Road East, and New Guilford Brethren In Christ Church at 1575 Mont Alto Road, Connie Vinck said.

The last day for donations to the stores is Sept. 17. Books and animals may be dropped off at the churches until Sept. 18.

The Vincks said they expect to leave Sept. 19 and deliver the Bibles to evacuation shelters in the Gulf Coast area as volunteers for the Salvation Army's disaster relief effort.

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