Archive for Friday, July 27, 2001

Alabama group’s Bibles used for evangelism in former Soviet bloc

July 27, 2001

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— Paul Lemons' ministry started out small tiny, to be exact.

He produced Russian-language New Testaments the size of matchbooks to smuggle through the mail past the KGB into the then-Soviet Union. The print was so small each softcover text came with a magnifying glass.

Big things grew from that beginning nearly two decades ago. Lemons' Alabama-based East European Harvest has since made hundreds of thousands of Bibles that have been distributed in the former Soviet bloc, and is taking on new projects in Africa and China.

The ministry, which has a hand-operated bindery in an old wood-frame shop, just purchased an automated system in a 32,000-square-foot building.

The organization runs on donations and work done mainly by church groups and individuals from as far away as Wisconsin.

"We have all volunteer labor," said Lemons, an 80-year-old Baptist minister who takes no salary. He lives off Social Security and proceeds from land he sold years ago.

The organization's busy season is under way. East European Harvest now makes normal-sized Bibles, and young people out of school for the summer work on the small assembly line.

"Sometimes there's two working in here and sometimes there's 30," volunteer Bob Phillips said as he demonstrated how Bibles are made. "You never have any idea how many lives are going to be touched and changed by one Bible that goes out of here."

The organization also may expand to other parts of the world. Lemons hopes to begin distributing Bibles in China, much like he used to send the scriptures to Russia when it was under communist control.

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