Fowlerville-based ministry Christian Resources International has broken its own record by sending about $10 million in donated Bibles and Christian books to 21 different counties this year. It is the most the Christian mission organization has ever collected and shipped out in a single year.

“It’s about giving used Bibles and Christian teaching tools that have been forgotten or would have been thrown out a purpose,”  Reverend Jason Woolford, the executive director of the non-denominational Christian missions organization, said.

Founded in Howell in 1956, the ministry has distributed used Bibles, other Christian literature and books by Christian authors for free to people around the world who do not always have access to books or cannot afford to buy them.

“We send them overseas to orphanages, evangelists, pastors, missionaries, Bible colleges, seminaries and libraries, and we help set up libraries with Bibles and Christian books, as well,” he said.

Woolford said the missions organization has shipped nearly $300 million worth of books to 170 countries in the last 60 years, and they have set up distribution centers in Kenya and the Philippines with plans to set up more.

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“When people have a Bible in their hands for the first time or a book to read, they cry,” said John Kwasi Nkum Boateng, a pastor from Ghana who distributes books through his ministry.

In the two years Boateng has been involved, he said Christian Resources International has shipped six 20-foot shipping containers to Ghana and about 20,000 people have received Bibles and books.

“We are located in the western part of Ghana, one of the poorest regions,” Boateng said. “It’s about a six hour drive to the capital Accra, and lots of resources are not available here, and the resources that are available are very expensive. A lot of schools don’t have books and churches don’t have books for their Sunday schools. There is a huge need for resources. Principals break into tears because it’s the first time they have seen a book in their library.”

When Woolford was in Ghana, he found a bookstore in Accra, but the books there cost more than many people in the country can afford, he said.

“We take for granted the ability to go buy a book. Some places they are just not there or people don’t have the means to get to a main city to buy a book,” he said.

He said books are also sent to countries where Christian reading materials are at risk of being destroyed in wars and conflicts.

Joseph Gitau Wainaina, a national director of the mission in Kenya and East Africa, said by email that three shipping containers of books and literature have gone a long way.

“This has been a huge blessing to our community of Maai-Mahiu which has a population of more than 80,000 people,” he said. “With the resources from Christian Resources International, we have been able to give Bibles to about half of our population.”.

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Wainaina said many pastors, who often earn less than $100 month, cannot afford books.

“Any person from the community and beyond can come to our resource center and do their studies and research using our books. This is unheard of in Kenya. Pastors and Christian leaders have no excuse for not preparing well for their sermons and teachings since they have the materials to help with that,” he said. “We have been able to give more than 500 study Bibles to pastors who have never owned one.”

The center also trains pastors in the basics of the Word of God for free, he said.

“We just held our first graduation of 26 pastors who would have never stepped into a college due to limited education that they have and the lack of finances,” Wainaina said.

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Mitch Brockway, the ministry’s warehouse and logistics manager, said the work involved in filling up 20-to-40-foot shipping containers can be stressful, but it fills his heart to do it.

“It’s a great feeling to send it out and then a little while later see pictures of the people receiving the very books we sent out. We get to see them unloading with big smiles on their faces,” Brockway said.

People from across the country mail in donated books or drop them off books to the ministry’s headquarters at 200 Free Street, Fowlerville. Woolford said there are a number of dedicated “book missionaries” who collect large qualities of books and travel to Fowlerville to make donations.

It costs about $10,000 to send a shipping container. Woolford said the mission has a goal of collecting a $500,000 a year in cash donations for shipping costs, and they have been taking in over $300,000 a year, according to financial documents. He visits churches across the country to tell people about the cause.

The organization for the first time this year sent Bibles and Christian books to 35,000 prisoners in the United States through a network of prison chaplains.

Late Howell resident Logan Papworth founded the organization in 1956 after discovering Christian books in a scrapyard where he was working. Papworth gave them to a missionary on his way to India and subsequently made it his mission to salvage used books and give them another life overseas, according to the origin story of the organization, which was originally called Christian Salvage Mission.

More information on Christian Resources International is available on its website, www.missioncry.com.

Contact Livingston Daily county and townships reporter Jennifer Eberbach at 517-548-7148 or at jeberbach@livingstondaily.com.