(GREENE COUNTY) - Two Greene County church pastors recently traveled to Washington D.C. to help hand-deliver a copy of The Bible to every member of the U.S. Congress.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that they also lifted Hoosier lawmakers up in prayer and offered encouragement to them.
On March 19, Pastor Doug Cassel of the Bethel Baptist Church in Linton and Pastor Jerry Ross of the Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Jasonville, joined with more than 300 pastors in the nation's capitol to take part in an outreach program called 'Capitol Connection'.
The goal of this visit was simple -- to place a copy of the Word of God in the hands of every member of Congress presently serving in our nation's capitol, according to Pastor Ross.
Cassel and Ross joined two other Indiana pastors in presenting a King James Bible to every Hoosier senator and representative.
The two local pastors had the opportunity to personally visit the offices of U.S. Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly, and U.S. Representatives Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon, and Jeff Messer.
The Bibles they presented were unique, according to Ross.
"The Bibles we presented were printed by Gracious Christian Living Publications for the purpose of presentation to every member of Congress. It was housed in a beautiful presentation box with each Congress person's name personally embossed on the box. Baptist pastors from every state flew in to make the official presentations of this Bible to their own state delegates. By the end of the day, every member of Congress -- all 435 Representatives and all 100 Senators -- had a copy of the Word of God in their office. It was a huge undertaking, but was wildly successful and warmly received."
The Bible that Ross and Cassel presented to the Indiana delegates in Congress is a presentation grade reproduction of this rare, Aitken's King James Bible.
"During the War of Independence, Bibles could not be imported from Great Britain. This led to a shortage of English Bibles in America. On January 21, 1781, a Philadelphia printer, Robert Aitken, petitioned Congress for both sanction and support for the production of a complete, English Bible for the American people. This authorization was approved and granted by Congress on September 12, 1782. Aitken personally financed and produced 10,000 copies of this Bible for distribution in the colonies. He also presented each member of Congress with their own personal copy. Less than 30 of these Bibles are in existence today, making it one of the rarest books in the world," Pastor Cassel further explained.
Cassel noted that the actual Bibles arrived about two weeks before the pastors did because of the way the gift had to be received directly from the book publisher to meet Congressional ethics requirements.
"They knew were coming and everyone had the Bibles in a place of prominence," he said.
Both pastors said it was good experience.
"Not only did we get to meet with many of our Indiana delegates personally, we also had the opportunity to spend some time encouraging them and praying with them. We also had the privilege to present each of their staff members copies of the New Testament along with our thanks for their hard work," Cassell said.
Pastor Ross said it was a very good experience for him to be able to go into the offices and just tell the Congressmen and Senators that someone was praying for them.
"We had prayer with them and encouraged them. There was no lobbying with them whatsoever," Ross explained. "They were thrilled to get the Bible. The reaction was so positive. They were just overwhelmed. The Bibles are beautiful for one thing. I think that is something that everyone of them will cherish long after they retire."
Ross said he stressed to each of the lawmakers that they have a congregation back home in Jasonville that is committed to praying for them.
"We told them we were are just here to tell you there are people back home that love you and are praying for you," Ross said. "One of the ideas we wanted to leave was, as Christians sometimes the only time we contact them is when we are upset or have a disagreement over some issue. We left them with the idea that we came here to just have prayer with them and encourage them. I think they were genuinely encouraged when we left."
Ross told of a conversation he had with new U.S. Senator Donnelley, who is a Catholic.
"He's a Catholic man and we would have a difference in some of our beliefs, but he told me 'I met with my priest when I won the election. He told me, "Joe go do what is right'. Then he (Donnelley) looked at me and said, 'Preacher, sometimes it's hard to know what is right'. I said, 'If you'll pick that book up (The Bible) and read it everyday. I don't know of a better source of what is right for wrong than the word of God," Ross told the Greene County Daily World.
Pastor Ross says Christians are commanded in the scriptures to pray for all of those in leadership positions.
"We may not always agree with their decisions, but that does not remove from us our responsibility to encourage them, and to hold them up to the Lord in prayer," he concluded.
Cassel added, "It was definitely a good opportunity for us and it was well received."
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