Bibles in CD, Internet formats available soon

- Edu Punay -
The Word of God could soon be just a click away as the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) is set to make use of computers and the Internet in its Bible awareness program.

PBS president and chair of Board of Directors Bishop Efraim Tendero said they would begin producing complete versions of the Bible in compact disc (CD) form next month as part of the group’s campaign to boost readership of the Bible among Filipinos, especially the youth.

"Young people today tend to put more of their attention on TV, entertainment, play stations and other activities brought by modern technology. We are set to make a bridge between the Bible and modern times," Tendero told reporters at a news conference to promote National Bible Week yesterday in Quezon City.

He said the project would pave the way for the PBS’ proposed e-Bible, a website where visitors can download the holy scriptures in various languages to their personal computers.

Tendero, who also heads the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, revealed that many Filipinos do not regularly read the Bible, prompting the PBS to take on the mission of producing enough copies of the holy book to reach even the poor.

"There is an ongoing breakdown in spiritual formation and real appreciation of the Word of God of our people. We are the only Christian nation in this part of the world. The irony of it all is that we are also one of the most corrupt countries," he stressed.

"The Bible is being (used as) mere decoration covered with dust. Pati mga buhay natin naalikabukan na ng corruption at iba pang problema."

Tendero stressed that the Catholic Church could be blamed somewhat for this problem because some church groups are not helping out in efforts to look for a solution. He claimed that there are also some "teachers of the Word of God" who have not carefully studied the Bible before preaching the Gospel.

He lamented that the homilies of some priests and preachers have been "very focused on politics and deviating from the context of the words."

"As preachers, we have to live by example and see to it that the teachings of Christ will become challenges to our way of living. This can be shown by following rules as simple as traffic regulations and basic respect to other people," explained Tendero.

He added that they are hoping their efforts would contribute to solving some of the current problems of the country, saying Filipinos have to "go back to foundations and moral perspectives from God’s words if they want real change."

Msgr. Gerardo Tapiador, regional director of Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECBA), said that by reading the Bible, we could be able to bond with Jesus and His word. "If we read and hear the Bible, we become closer to God through Christ."

The PBS has been doing its part to solve the problem of lack of interest in the Bible. The group has worked to bring down the prices of Bibles. "A Bible normally costs P300 to P500 in bookstores," Tendero noted, "but we found a way to offer it for P150 to participants of basic ecclesiastic services."

Tendero said they have also been focusing on distribution of free Bibles among the poor by forging a partnership with the Gawad Kalinga foundation and providing a free Bible to every house built by the charitable institution.

Last year, the PBS distributed over 735,000 copies of the Bible. Tendero said they are targeting a million copies of Bible for distribution this year. And with their new Bible website, they may just reach that goal.

The ECBA will also launch new versions of the Basic Ecclesiastic Community Bible in Filipino and other Philippine languages like Bicol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilocano, and Pangasinense.

The PBS and ECBA joined hands for the National Bible Week that is set to start on Monday, Jan. 23, with a series of relevant activities in various venues nationwide.

But the celebration will kick off with a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and Bible parade at the Yñares Center in Antipolo City. CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, Iloilo, is set to deliver a message on the topic of "God’s Word: Splendor of Truth and the Path to Peace."

This year, the PBS will also be working with government offices to hold Bible reading sessions in local city halls, ecumenical Bible assemblies, and campus distribution of scripture booklets and tracts.

People are encouraged to share a copy of their Bible with those who can’t afford to buy their own. The PBS also announced that Bible products in various translations and formats are on sale throughout the week at major bookstores.

"Every Filipino is encouraged to take advantage of our religious freedom by participating in the celebrations organized by local Churches, parishes, dioceses and ministerial associations in key cities nationwide," the PBS said in a statement.

During National Bible Week, there will also be Bible motorcades, Bible readings during flag-raising ceremonies in government offices and city halls, inter-Church Bible rallies, Bible fairs and forums, a symposium and a seminar on positive work attitude.

Simultaneous activities are being held in the provinces, including Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo, Leyte, Cebu, Bulacan, Urdaneta and Pangasinan.

PBS secretary general Nora Lucero said they have also asked leaders of various religious sectors to talk about the event’s theme — "God’s Word: Power for National Renewal" — in their sermons on Jan. 29 to mark the end of National Bible Week.










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