Buenos Aires is a study in contrasts. Founded in the 16th century by a small band of Europeans, the city today has 13,000,000 citizens who come from all over the world. It is the wealthiest city in the southern hemisphere, but one-third of its population lives in poverty. Half a million make their home in shanty towns where violence, danger, and deprivation are their daily reality.
In the midst of Argentina’s urban darkness La Mision Iglesia Evangelica Presbiteriana offers the light and hope of the gospel. Pastor Marcelo Robles leads a lively community of faith and partners with churches around the world to restore people, their families and communities. Chris Seay and Ecclesia Houston connected with Marcelo several years ago. Together they realized it is better to work together with the poor than simply give them money. The adage is true: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” So La Mision has started over twenty micro-enterprises. Each small business provides those willing to work an opportunity to put food on the table, shoes on their feet, and send their children to school with the clothes and supplies they need. The leaders of these businesses teach workers the job skills they need and offer them decent hours and a fair wage. La Mision and its ministry partners are bringing dignity and hope to Buenos Aires.
During one of his visits to Buenos Aires, Chris had an idea. It was 2008 and The Voice New Testament had just been published in paperback. La Mision, Chris discovered, has a pastor skilled in leather-working. What if . . . La Mision could start a micro-enterprise that manufactures leather Bible covers for our paperback New Testaments. What if . . . these could be sold in countries of the first world to provide financial help for our brothers and sisters in Argentina. Chris and Marcelo figured out a way to make that happen.
Before long the machines, tools, materials, and people were in place to handcraft some of the most beautiful Bible covers I have ever seen. Workers at La Mision cut and sew the leather. They stamp and carefully stain it in various colors. Each leather Bible cover is one of a kind. Here is a brief video so you can see for yourself the city and the marvelous people making these covers:
In one of the videos, a young man says, “As we make these Bible covers, we pray for those who will one day be reading the Bible.” It is beautiful and humbling to think that these brothers and sisters—living at the harsh edge of poverty—would pause from their labors to remember and pray for us who live so well.
Chris’ first order was for 500 Bible covers. His second was for 5000. With each Bible cover sold, the buyer receives a beautiful, handcrafted gift and the workers who made it receive a measure of dignity they hadn’t known. Wherever the gospel is proclaimed and lived, a part of the world is repaired.
When Thomas Nelson began its plans for publishing the full Bible, they thought of La Mision. What if . . . La Mision could step up their manufacturing and produce leather bindings for the full printed Bible instead of Bible covers for paperbacks. What if . . . those bindings could be shipped to Columbia—where The Voice Bible was scheduled to be printed—so the bindings could be glued and sewn on the full Bibles. What if . . . these could be sold in countries of the first world to provide financial help for our brothers and sisters in Argentina. Chris, Marcelo, and the good folks at Thomas Nelson have figured out a way to make that happen.