God's word in action: Volunteers gear up for area Bible League retreat

WORTHINGTON -- As volunteers for Bible League, Anita Weg and Dorothy Vander Wilt have worked together closely for the last several months to prepare for an upcoming retreat in Sioux Falls, S.D.

WORTHINGTON -- As volunteers for Bible League, Anita Weg and Dorothy Vander Wilt have worked together closely for the last several months to prepare for an upcoming retreat in Sioux Falls, S.D.

But their bond extends beyond the realm of volunteerism. They are sisters and grew up in the Bigelow area. Weg lives in Worthington and recently retired from a position with the local school district. Vander Wilt hails from Hospers, Iowa, and she and her husband, Myron, serve as national directors of Bible League volunteers.

"I've been involved since 1990 in different volunteer positions," explained Vander Wilt. "Anita just got on board when she retired."

"As soon as I retired, she had my name on a list," said Weg with a laugh.

The Bible League is one of the world's largest evangelical, non-denominational Scripture-placement agencies. The Bible League partners with local churches around the globe, training and equipping Christians to use the Bible to make disciples and establish new churches.


The Bible League organization is service-driven and describes its missions as:

l Providing Scriptures and Bible study materials; training local Christians who use them to grow God's family in number and in spiritual maturity.

l Coming alongside local churches that have a passion for the lost; equipping their leaders with Scriptures and training to establish new churches in areas where there are none.

l Strengthening the faith of persecuted Christians; placing God's Word into the hands of those who often have no other source of spiritual nourishment.

l Identifying people unreached by the Gospel; helping mission organizations and churches fulfill Christ's command to make disciples among all people.

"The Bible League is also affiliated with the (Bibles for Missions) thrift store here," explained Weg. "What is unique about Bible League is they train church planters in their own country."

Money is raised through the Bible League's volunteer network and endeavors such as thrift stores and is used to purchase Bibles to be sent to specific countries. The Bible for Missions store in Worthington raises money to purchase Bibles for Kenya. Each division of the Bible League focuses on a specific country for a two-year time period. The Minn-ia-Kota division is currently starting a new focus -- Mexico.

"There are churches there, but people don't have the Bible," explained Vander Wilt about the need for Scriptures in Mexico. "They know there's a God, but they don't know His plan of salvation."


The Bible League retreat on Sept. 12-13 at The Oaks in Sioux Falls will have a theme of "Our God Reigns." The retreat is described as "a unique experience designed to glorify God through great speakers and worshipful singing and to renew and uplift the spirit of all who attend. An opportunity will be given for you to provide Bibles and training through your gifts for Bible League ministry in Mexico, our focus this fiscal year."

The annual retreat encompasses Bible League volunteers from Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. In past years, it's been geared solely for women, but the 2006 session will also offer something for male volunteers. A men's mini session will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, then the men are invited to stay for a banquet, concert and evening session.

Featured speaker will be Marilyn Laszlo, who spent 24 years living in Papua, New Guinea, with a small tribe that had a history of head-hunting, sorcery and hostility toward outsiders. While working with Wycliffe Bible Translators there, she created an alphabet for a previously unwritten language and began the task of translating the New Testament, which was published in 1989.

"She's a very good speaker," said Weg, who is serving as chairwoman of the retreat. "They say that first you're crying, then you're laughing when she speaks."

Also on the retreat agenda are Tim DeVries, who has been with the Bible League since 1994 and heads its Latin America Leadership team; and Sandy Van Horssen, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2002 and shares the story of her spiritual journey since that day. The Grotenhuis Family, a musical group from rural Iowa, will perform during the retreat. Parents Evan and Sheryl Grotenhuis and their three children all sing and play several instruments in a variety of musical styles.

Weg and Vander Wilt emphasize that the retreat is open to anyone interested in learning more about the Bible League and volunteer opportunities.

"They'll not only learn about what the Bible League does, but also have an opportunity to give money for Bibles," Vander Wilt said.

Vander Wilt became a volunteer herself after attending such a retreat.


"I was a stay-at-home mom. I volunteered for school activities, whatever came along," she related. "But I thought I should be doing more than baking for bake sales. I wanted to do something that really impacted people. I went to a Bible League retreat and volunteered to become the northwest Iowa representative. I thought it was something that could make a difference in people's lives."

Since then, Vander Wilt and her husband have directly witnessed Bible League's impact during trips to countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Russia, the Philippines and Mexico, where the Bibles have been distributed and church planters have been trained.

Vander Wilt's enthusiasm for Bible League activities has been passed along to Weg, who was compelled to volunteer when she realized that some of the older volunteers weren't able to be as active as they once were.

"They still want to be involved, but it's time for us to get up to bat," Weg said.

"It's been a blessing, and it's a blessing to see the volunteers who help," added Vander Wilt. "You know it's something worthwhile and has an eternal difference."

Anyone interested in learning more about the Bible League or the retreat can contact Weg, 376-9739; Vander Wilt, (712) 752-8839, or e-mail . Registrar for the retreat is Alvina Kooiman, 1944 Dorathea Blvd., Worthington 56187. Phone 376-5604.

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