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Scripting the Scriptures

It’s a new mission to bring back the old. “In the early years of the church, before the advent of printing presses, copy machines and computers, people copied the Bible by hand to ensure that a faithful record of Christ’s teaching would be passed on to future generations. Throughout the Dark Ages, monks carefully copied biblical texts in order to preserve a written record of the Word of God. As they wrote down each word line by line, the process itself drew them into deeper meditation about the meaning of the Scriptures, thereby enriching their own relationship with God. Though largely abandoned in our fast-paced, multi-tasking society, the practice of copying the Scripture has proved a valuable tool in mission settings like Botswana.” – Jennifer Smith, local missionary who has served in more than 50 different countries.

Smith attends Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church (LABC) in Jacksonville, where the congregation has previously welcomed Minister Kelly Carruthers and his wife, Ann, as guest speakers for the Botswana Baptist Mission. The Carruthers’ (Americans) are in their 13th year as a missionary family in Francistown, Botswana. Jennifer Smith and Carol Stewart, both of LABC, were the first small group to travel to Africa and spend time in the mission field with the Carruthers.  This past November, a second small group took the almost 22-hour (and that is only the flight portion) journey to copy the Scriptures and have fellowship with the Carruthers and people of Botswana.

They were my parents Michael and Jamsie Hurt. I wrote that day, “I am proud of them for their altruism. They are giving sincerely of themselves to these African families, children, and people in need. May they make an amazing impact on many lives through their great attitudes, knowledge, and love of the Lord. Godspeed.” Once they had arrived, they jumped right in to what Minister Kelly Carruthers calls write, discuss, listen – increasing learning by using multiple ways and methods of studying the Bible, literally writing down every word and every verse of your preferred Bible translation. The end goal of this method is prayer, allows prompting the writer to think about what they are writing and what the words mean to him or her. So, they copied. They copied in homes, under thatched roofs, below cover of mango trees, in the downtown Francistown church where Kelly Carruthers preaches, or anywhere – all the while giving encouragement to those truly devoted to copying. Michael Hurt said, “I think our presence in the various copying groups and Bible study groups helped to validate the power of copying the Bible and also how it brings them a fuller and more complete understanding of the Word.” “They were very touched that Americans were also doing the copying,” added Jamsie Hurt. She said also of Michael that the Africans “called him a blessing,” noting that they loved his white hair (she giggled). There is a respect for age in the culture of Botswana, so his light locks actually carried clout.

Even without the grey, there was a connection felt between my parents and the Africans during the mission trip. Jamsie Hurt said, “I loved bonding with the women in the thatched huts in Zimbabwe. We talked about the Scriptures. There was singing, hugging, praying — we were Sisters-in-Christ. The mission was very God-filled. It was awesome and unique.” Michael Hurt joined in, saying he was inspired by “sharing personal testimony with the people in Botswana and Zimbabwe and realizing on one hand how different we are, while on the other hand, we all face our trials and tribulations. Still, we remain close as Brothers and Sisters in Christ.”

Minister Kelly and Ann Carruthers continue to spread the old/new discipleship method in southern Africa with support from the Southern Baptist International Missions Board. Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church hopes to have a few small groups travel as missionaries to support the Carruthers’ Botswana Baptist Mission each year. Both Michael and Jamsie Hurt hope to return to Botswana and are still copying daily. “This simple strategy is effectively raising up dynamic, mature followers of Christ who know what the Bible says and try to live it out in their daily African lives.” – Jennifer Smith

Books for health (departments)

Many women educators residing in Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties are members of the Alpha Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International. This honor society started work on their “Raise A Reader” program over 18 years ago. The Alpha Chi Chapter states that “the literacy project began with the research and development of a baby calendar which has been distributed ever since with baby’s first book to all babies born at Passavant Hospital.” The project stresses the importance of reading to children and also touches on the use of language to listen and speak with children as critical to academic success in the early elementary grades. It notes in the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards that “Preschool children’s language skills are some of the best predictors of reading success in the first and second grade.” “From birth to preschool is a critical time to intervene and make sure that the child’s environment includes lots of language,” agrees Alpha Phi President Debbie Bicknell.

Literacy Chair Kathy English notes that sometime around 10 years ago, they began donating books to the Morgan County Health Department. Then, 5 or 6 years back, Passavant took over the printing of the calendar, allowing their monies to be allocated for the purchase of more books. This past year has been the most successful fundraising year for the members of Alpha Phi Chapter; the committee met recently to unpack 3050 books that are being donated to area health departments for distribution. In addition to the books, the Raise A Reader project has furnished educational materials for the health departments, having translated them into French and Spanish to better meet the needs of our area demographics.

On Thursday, March 27th, English and fellow Literacy Committee member, Jo Ann Nelson, arrived at the Morgan County Health Department (MCHD) to hand over a portion of the books and materials to MCHD Administrator Dale Bainter, for distribution within. It was estimated that nearly 800 books were donated here in Jacksonville alone. There was a sense of joy and gratification as the first book was handed out to a little boy during the dropoff. English says, “We’re trying to reach that early age before school and everyday access to books. Everything is possible through the hard work of the Literacy Committee members who develop our ideas, write grants, solicit funds, and do the hard work to make this happen.” The Literacy Committee includes Debbie Bicknell, Janet Hayes, Dianna Hart, Jo Ann Nelson, Sally Nurss, Doris Robinson, Phyllis Rhodes, and Suzanne Verticchio.

The honor society’s President, Debbie Bicknell, said that, “As President, I am thrilled with this committee and everybody else. This is just so incredible to be able to do what we’ve done in one year.”

Members of the Alpha Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International would like to thank each member of the group for their efforts. They appreciate greatly the funding for the Raise A Reader project that was achieved through a grant from the Lambda State Educational Foundation and the generosity of the following area donors: Arends Awe, Inc., Beardstown Lions Club, Bound to Stay Bound, Cass Cable TV, Inc., Cargill Beardstown, Cass County Retired Teachers, Church Women United, Wesley Chapel, Claribel Cully Memorial, The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company, First National Bank of Arenzville, First National Bank of Beardstown, First Presbyterian Church Mission Committee, Fox Fund Grace United Methodist Church, Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative Community Fund, individual donations from Alpha Phi members, Jacksonville Area Chapter AARP, Jacksonville Savings Bank, L & H Insurance Agency of Bluffs, Lynch Family Dentistry, Margaret Wilson, M.D., Morgan/Scott Retired Teachers, Mrs. Alf Anderson, Mr. Don Chipman, Mrs. Raymond McDonald, Our Town Books, Passavant Area Hospital, Petefish Skiles & Co. Bank, Premier Bank, State Farm Agent Thomas Eoff, Tom & Jan Tiffin, Trinity Episcopal Church Fellowship, Triopia CUSD 27, Triopia Federation of Teachers, William W. Weller, D.D.S., Wesley Chapel Harmony Class, Wessler Brothers Insurance, and Westown Ford.

8 people posing for a photo

Home Instead Senior Care

Locally owned Home Instead Senior Care has spent the last ten years serving Jacksonville-area seniors.  The franchise owner, Amy Best, decided to open a business that helps seniors with their non-medical day-to-day tasks after going through a situation where this type of care would have been greatly beneficial to a family member.  Today, Home Instead…


IC Student to Bike and Build

Noah Rieger, an Illinois College student from Germany, has big plans for this summer when the school year wraps up. He’ll be bicycling 4,256 miles from Charleston, South Carolina to Santa Cruz, California over 82 days for Bike and Build, a nonprofit organization that hosts cross-country cycling journeys to benefit housing projects with Habitat for…

Shannon Cole: Opening her heart to running

All was going well. Near the end of 2008, Shannon Cole was your average young adult heading to the doctor over a cold. She had realized after 3 weeks of not feeling well (and some loving insisting from her husband, Darin) that she needed to go. Cole says that she had fever and a bad cough and wondered at the time even if it could be as simple as bad allergies. It all seemed relatively standard.

During her visit, however, Cole was whisked over to Dr. Prabhakar of Passavant Internal Medicine to have a sonogram. “From there, it just spiraled,” expressed Cole. She is told that she has an Atrial Septal Defect (ASR), or as Shannon explained it, the abnormal finding of a murmur. The American Heart Association defines ASR as, “a ‘hole’ in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart,” detailing further that, “this defect allows oxygen-rich blood to leak into the oxygen-poor blood chambers in the heart.”

As Cole stated, the whole ordeal spiraled indeed. She turned 30 on March 1, 2009, and was scheduled for her open-heart surgery just 30 days later. Physicians later informed Cole that the ASR was a birth defect and she had been living with it her whole life. Generally, the ‘hole’ will close on its own within several weeks or months after birth, but Cole was one of the small percentage of the population whose hole did not naturally heal. During the operation, Cole was on bypass and Cardiologist Dr. Matos at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield located the hole that needed patching; it was equivalent to the size of a half-dollar. Almost 7 hours her family and husband waited. “I’m so glad I wasn’t the one that had to wait in the waiting room. I’m glad I had to be the patient, to be honest with you,” divulged Cole. When Cole returned home to recover, she had great support. Greenfield Baptist Church brought meals to her family at their house for a month, while her friends and entire family outpoured loved and well wishes.

“It doesn’t seem possible,” says Cole that March 31st of this week celebrates the five-year anniversary of her operation. After her surgery, Cole felt that she “needed to do more because you realize how short your life could be or how suddenly everything can change.” So, she turned to running. Just 8 weeks after having such an invasive surgery, Cole was back to work and had starting building up her endurance on a treadmill in their home. Then she began to run. And run and run. She has participated in 5k and 10k races locally. She has raced in the “Springfield Fight for Air Climb” at the Hilton (that’s 32 flights of stairs) for the past 2 years under her team name, “Stronger Than Yesterday.” And that is exactly how Cole feels – stronger than yesterday. Finding the heart defect was an eye opener that led Cole to running and discovering a new strength. Cole’s first ½ marathon is April 26th in Champaign and having recently turned 35, her goal is appropriately to complete 35 runs this year alone. Amazingly, she is not just participating in these races – she is winning, and has a hanger full of medals to prove it. “When your feet get tired, run with your heart,” she quotes often.

After having annual checks with echocardiograms, she was recently told “no restrictions” from Dr. Matos. It’s an extraordinary story. Without seeing her scar, one would never imagine what she’s survived. She lives a normal life in Greenfield with her husband, two step children named Kailya and Kobe, and two Labradors. Now, she runs at least 3 miles a day. She’s racing and motivating others, she says.  Cole is celebrating life, now just five years after having open-heart surgery – after what she thought was a mere cold.

Lady surrounded by children: Werries Story - Jacksonville Native

Jacksonville Native Completes Mission Work in Honduras

Chelsea Werries is a graduate student at Illinois Wesleyan, where she’s studying clinical counseling psychology. But over spring break just weeks ago, she took her second trip to Honduras where her mission work ties in with her studies—through counseling young people. Her goal after graduating is to pursue Christian counseling, and her mission work has…

IREC solar ribbon cutting photo

Illinois Rural Electric Hosts Solar Project Ribbon Cutting

Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative held a ribbon cutting for its new 500 kilowatt solar facility which is located south of Winchester on Illinois Highway 106, next to one of the substations that serves the cooperative’s 7,800 members. The co-op was greatly honored to have United States Senator Dick Durbin, State Sen. Sam McCann, State Rep.…