This year about 2500 Slovenians read the Bible during the 6th Bible marathon – a weeklong, 24/7 Bible reading that didn’t only take place at the traditional central location at St. Joseph’s church in Ljubljana, but also in almost 50 other towns and villages throughout Slovenia from October 6th till October 13th. God spoke to us through his Word about his love for everyone, so this year’s event was called “Love is the greatest” (1 Cor 13,13).
Word of God has been “alive in active” (Heb 4:12 cev) in Slovenia
Benjamin Siter, who coordinates the Bible marathon, explains the background story of the now traditional event: “when we first began preparing Bible marathon six years ago we couldn’t have imagined that the initiative would have such significant outcome just a few years down the road. It is most obvious that it’s God’s work and vision that are spreading this initiative”.
In the first couple of years we only did Bible reading in Ljubljana. It was challenging enough for a small group of zealous volunteers from different Christian backgrounds to convene 84 different Christian groups to take part in the non-stop Bible reading for 2-hour terms throughout the whole week. We are seeing that this task has gotten a bit easier over the years, since there are now many people who keep coming back every year and are bringing new people along. We are particularly glad to see that many of the priests and others that were a bit hesitant about public Bible reading at first, saying that one can read the Bible at home, now see the incredible impact that such reading has on the people. Many participants testified that they began reading their Bible on a daily basis precisely at the encouragement of the Bible marathon.
Catherine wrote: “Even the previous Bible marathon still resonates within me. The Bible marathon helped to begin reading the Bible on a daily basis.”
It was this continuous stream of testimonies and encouragement that kept the small team going from year to year. They kept preparing accompanying events, such as workshops and lectures that help people understand more about the Bible and help them to begin reading the Bible on a regular basis. In the last couple of years they also read the Bible publicly a couple of hours every day during the “marathon” week in the “Prešeren” square in downtown of the Capital Ljubljana.
Word of God in Worship music
To bring the youth to a closer relationship with the Word, we also organized a concert of contemporary Christian music, but this year, the initiative of bringing glory to God through worship music was taken even further. One of the so called “Harvesters” (view West Balkan Partnership project “Calling the Harvesters”), Tadej Vindiš, who is a leader of a famous Slovenian worship band “Svetnik” (The Saint), has used the Bible marathon initiative and some technical support from the Bible society, to prepare a special workshop for worship ministry leaders. The workshop involved a “theoretical” part in which Bible society General Secretary Matjaž Črnivec, along with Tadej Vindiš and a young Catholic priest Tomaž Kette, shared about the importance and origins of worship, according to the Bible. After that, more than 30 attendees of the workshop did some practical training. Their responses were overwhelming, and we see this might be a possible way to spread our Bible – based mission among these worship leaders in the future as well.
After the workshop three different worship groups held a concert at St. Joseph’s church that was very well attended by over 250 young people.
The Bible marathon initiative spreads throughout the country
As stated in the beginning, the Bible marathon has spontaneously spread through Slovenia like wildfire in the last three years. The Lord provided for an addition to our team that made this possible. It is again one of our Harvesters Mr. Bojan Doljak, who has been managing almost 50 different places, where the Bible reading took turn. He provided the local organizers with all the necessary information and coordinated them. They read the Bible for different periods of time in that Bible marathon week – some only for a couple of hours every night of the Bible marathon, but some also for the whole 24 hours in a given day of that week.
During the closing ceremony of the Bible marathon in Ljubljana, Bojan gave a wonderful and encouraging speech about his personal experience with the Bible marathon: “As we are finishing this year’s Bible marathon I have to say I feel a little bit like apostle Paul who said: “I won a good fight, finished the course, kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). But the aim of this marathon-like reading of the Word is not only in maintaining our faith, but in multiplying it, so it will be able to spread among others as well. What a grace! What a privilege it was for me to come into a chapel in the middle of the night and hear the Word being read with grace and dignity. This was not just simple reading, this was proclamation. When the Word is being read like this, we receive healing and many people receive a change of heart. This is a closing ceremony, but this is not the end. This should only be the beginning. Let’s take this message of love into our homes, jobs, among our friends, family and also to complete strangers”.
Incentive to begin reading the Bible on a daily basis through the E100
Everyone that attended the event received a promotional leaflet for the E100 book, that is due to be published soon and is a continuation of the “My thirty days with the Bible” campaign, that we did during last year’s Bible marathon. This way, Bible marathoners are invited to begin reading the Bible on a daily basis.
But for the Bible society it is important to be able to receive new contacts through these promotional leaflets and in the time since the Bible marathon, we have been working to further establish contact with these people. This way, we will be able to provide them with the e-news, that will be established with a new website of the Bible society (see project God’s word in new media).
Bible marathon to be repeated during the year
We are now preparing for Bible Sunday, which will be on the last Sunday in January 2014. The Bible marathon preparation group has decided that they will begin promoting marathon – like Bible reading as a vigil before Bible Sunday. We still don’t know how many of our local organizers will be happy to apply this idea in their towns, but we will surely prepare it in Ljubljana.
We are also happy that we will be able to present the E100 book on the Bible Sunday. The book is now in the final stages of proof reading, that has been very carefully done by our Board chairman Prof. Dr. Marijan Peklaj and also by our General Secretary Matjaž Črnivec. We see this book to be very valuable to our Slovenian readers, since it brings a new, more applicable way of interpreting the Scriptures for most of our believers.
More photos from Bible Marathon are available here.