God has been absolutely amazing. As you read through this document, keep in mind that in late 2005, our team had absolutely no intention of distributing Bibles to the Military. God not only put this mission on our hearts, but also provided everything we have needed to carry out His wishes.
Operation Worship is a ministry that began in early 2006 as a Christian Music Tour of military bases all over the United States. We started out in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia and continued to the Pentagon, Ft. Hood, Texas, Ft. Polk, Louisiana, Ft. Lewis, Washington, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and 5 trips to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. But even though these concerts were very successful, God obviously had a bit of a different plan.
While we were visiting Ft. Hood, Texas in 2006, I visited with a Chaplain who had just returned from his tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was moved to ask him what resources are at the top of his list when it comes to items that could easily be supplied by Americans free of charge? In other words, what items are most important within your ministry? His answer was quite a surprise. He said that when he performed a church service every Sunday morning in the desert out of the back of his HumVee, about 50 soldiers normally attended. They sang Hymns with no instruments there in the middle of the active war, worshipped God and were blessed continually. But in these services at that time, only a handful of soldiers had Bibles. I was under the mistaken assumption that Bibles were everywhere at US Bases. That is somewhat true but most are New Testaments only in order to keep the size of the Bible small. But Chaplains made it clear that both the Old and New Testaments are quite important.
People fighting for our country want to know why we are there. The Old Testament takes them through some of the history and solders are seeking after this information. I realized that this was reachable goal and decided to pursue The Chaplain’s request. I immediately contacted a good friend of mine, the Grandson of Billy Graham. I called and told him the situation and asked for as many Bibles as they could send me for the first deployment. They had 6,500 Billy Graham Study Bibles. They shipped them immediately and they were all received in our warehouse in Rocklin, California.
Just afterward, our team was scheduled to work backstage at Spirit West Coast in Monterey, California. God put the idea in our hearts to take all of the Bibles with us, and have each one of the inside front covers signed with a message of encouragement by people attending the concerts. The results were astounding! People at that event donated over $10,000 during that concert to the Operation Worship cause and those funds were used to assist us in launching the project. All 6,500 Bibles were signed and ready to ship. We returned all of the bibles to our warehouse and had a team of volunteers read every message to make sure that there were no discouraging or inappropriate messages. Then, all of the Bibles were shipped to the Chaplains at Ft. Hood, Texas.
In a deployment of 45,000 soldiers within a few days of their arrival, the Bibles were placed next to the aircraft as solders were boarding to head to the war zones. The personal distribution of Bibles is legal within the military but only under the control of a Chaplain, and the Bibles can only be made available by leaving them in an area where somebody wants to pick it up. You can not hand a Bible to a soldier! As the soldiers boarded the planes there at Fort Hood, 99% of them picked up these Bibles and they were completely gone in the first day. The Chaplain called and asked for 50,000 more. This was the first launch of Bibles by the Operation Worship ministry.
Immediately after, I contacted Tyndale House Publishers and advised them of the vision and what had happened with the Bibles donated by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and deployed at Fort Hood. They met with their Executive Management team briefly and decided to partner with us by providing sales channels through their distribution network of Christian bookstores. People were able to buy the Bibles at the store and our Foundation was able to pay for the freight charges to get them back to our warehouse for deployment. Many things have occurred since then but in short, as of the writing of this document we have deployed over 650,000 Bibles from our Rocklin, California facility and have almost 1,000,000 Bibles in print.
We have 6 Bible cover types including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, and a Pink Camo covered “ Homefront” Edition. The Military Music Tour – This Bible ministry all started as a bit of a diversion from our original mission, bringing major Christian artists to Military bases all over the world. But the desire to continue the music tour continues in our spirits as it did when we started. The Operation Worship Bible distribution story alone is quite compelling but when you add that together with the ability to visit bases all over the world and to Bless these people and everyone involved, the results are amazing!
A personal messages in every Bible
What sets Operation Worship apart from most other Bible distribution ministries is the addition of a personal message written by people here in America prior to deployment. This started when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association graciously stepped forward and donated 6,500 Billy Graham Training Center Bibles to the Operation Worship cause. In the Operation Worship Bibles, there are 3 lined pages right in the front, a place to put your personal message. We have received hundreds of thousands of messages since we started this ministry in 2006. Tyndale House Publishers announced that 4 other ministries have started using the same concept, having donors of the Bibles write personal messages within the first few pages of the Bibles. Over a million additional Bibles have been printed using this concept.