February 2, 2018
The first weeks of the year rang with cheers of “Happy National Bible Month!” as the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) spearheaded and promoted its activities for the 2018 National Bible Month.
The NBM celebration kicked off last January 6 with the activity called “Ang BibLia para sa mga Bata” held at the PBS Ministry Building, featuring the PBS icons Bib and Lia and the Superbook TV character Gizmo. The event aimed to engage the young participants aged 6 to 12 not just on reading and enjoying their Bible, but also on obeying its commands and sharing it to others.
“God can use me to make the Bible known,” was one of the major lessons for the kids as they watched two stories: first, The Prodigal Son was presented through a Superbook episode and second, a skit by Teatro Ekumenikal, portrayed the scene of Zacchaeus the tax collector meeting the Lord Jesus Christ.
Throughout the month, PBS management and staff also visited the celebrations in various municipalities, churches, and organizations where Bible distribution activities, Bible quizzes, and seminars were conducted.
“The municipality of Alfonso, Cavite, is a significant supporter of NBM celebrations,” shares Ptr. Raymond Francisco, a PBS representative. They are already preparing for next year’s highlight event, a Guinness Book of World Records entry for ‘The Longest Line of People Carrying (reading their) Bibles’. We are grateful and encouraged by their enthusiasm.”
Another trademark of the month-long celebration is the “i-Proclaim!”, a public reading marathon of the Bible through the help of various local government units, schools, parishes, and ministerial fellowships. PBS conducted a week-long “i-Proclaim!” at Plaza Rueda in Ermita, Manila on January 22-26, 2018, in cooperation with the City of Manila.
PO1 Arriane Imbien, of Station 6 in Sta. Ana Manila, was grateful for a front seat view of the NBM festivities, despite being new to the celebration. She remarks, “I remember from what I read aloud today, ‘Knock and the door will be opened for you. (Matthew 7:7)’ I was encouraged because I knew that it was true. All of us make mistakes and sin but asking forgiveness from God and seeking his help always puts me at rest.”
During the “i-Proclaim” at Plaza Rueda, the Bible was read aloud in Tagalog, English, Ilokano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Pampango, Pangasinan, Samarenyo, Bikolano and Chinese, according to the preferred language of the participants. Commuters and passersby were welcomed to participate, or simply listen to the Bible verses being read.
Alongside PO1 Arriane were other police officers representing all 11 precincts of the Manila Police District. Meanwhile, groups of students from different schools also came to participate, as well as senior citizen clubs, and informal groups from local churches and parishes.
“I read the Bible aloud today so that people will know God,” said Hezekiah, a grade schooler. Like him and his parents, individuals also participated when they heard the i-Proclaim from the street. One other passerby was Lisa, an OFW on vacation, who was encouraged from hearing God’s Word and signed up to read a chapter from the Gospel of Matthew.
Aside from i-Proclaim, PBS and its partners facilitated Bible quizzes, parades, motorcades, fun runs, biking events, gospel concerts, and poster-making contests to engage communities, families, and individuals to “encounter God through His Word.”
PBS General Secretary Dr. Nora Lucero says confidently, “We praise God for this yearly opportunity for NBM. We thank the many churches in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that have organized the activities to celebrate the Bible. Glory and praises be to our God indeed!”
The annual festivity of NBM was decreed last year through Presidential Proclamation No. 124 by incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte on January 5, 2017, in order to raise public awareness of the importance of the Bible. Prior to the NBM, the annual celebration for the Bible was National Bible Week, backed up by Presidential Proclamations 2242, 44, and 1067, issued by Presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, and Fidel Ramos, respectively.