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Posted by Erica Tape on February 6, 2019 at 6:01 AM

It was the day before Christmas break, and the whole school had come together in the gym for chapel. There were young wiggly kids and kids who had lost several baby teeth and the more mature preteens, all dressed in their uniform pleated skirts, slacks, and polos. With the excitement of Christmas break ahead, the usual semi-organized chaos was ticked up to another level.

Finally, the kids got lined up. The calm didn’t last long.

The pastor and volunteers started passing out Christmas gifts to the students. Each child got a book as their gift. These weren’t just any old books, though. They were Bibles.

River Roads students lined up to receive their very own age-appropriate Bibles.
Each student received their very own age-appropriate Bible for Christmas. For some students, this is the first Bible they have owned.

“Oh my goodness!”

“Pastor, we want to read to you!”

These were Bibles each student could put their name in, that they could take home and keep. And in some cases, this was a child’s first Bible. Because of the generosity of donors like you, these students got individual, life-giving Christmas presents.

Small Church with a Big Heart

Linda’s eyes crinkle as she tells the story. Repeatedly, she says,

“It did this old girl’s heart good.”

Linda Diefenbach is a member of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, which is partnered with River Roads Lutheran School right around the corner. Though the church’s members don’t see the students every day, the congregation embraces the students as part of their church family.

When Linda took on the role of stewardship chairperson in 2018, she wanted to teach members that there are ways other than donating to give back to the Church.

“Generally when people say stewardship, they’re like, ‘I get my offering envelopes and I put my money in there.’ [But] stewardship is not always about money. Sometimes it’s about time. It’s about talent. It’s about a lot of things.”

After Linda spoke to the congregation, members started helping out in droves, with cleaning the church, reaching out to the community, checking in on shut-ins, and volunteering at the school.

Each summer, the church holds a school-supply drive to provide items to students at River Roads. Linda took the opportunity to ask teachers if there were things other than paper and pencils and folders that the students needed.

“Bibles,” the teachers said.

Age-Appropriate Bible for Each Student

Being a small church, there was only so much money Ebenezer could raise. Linda set a goal of providing a Bible for each student at the school.

Though the church raised hundreds of dollars, it wasn’t enough.

Linda works in the customer service department at Concordia Publishing House, and she was aware of CGO, which is the charity arm of the organization. She asked if CGO could help the kids by providing Bibles. So CGO donated the rest of the Bibles the church needed to meet their goal.

River Roads students smile with their new Bibles in hand.
Students at River Roads are educated to become leaders and shaped to be evangelists in their community.

Books like My First Bible went to the preschoolers, The Hear Me Read Bible to early readers, and Faith Alive Bible to older children. For some students, this is the first time they will be bringing the Word of God home to their families.

Encouraging and Empowering Students

Each grade level’s page on the school’s website has a quote at the bottom. The eighth-grade page has this one:

“Teach them well, then let them lead the way.”

By raising up curious, motivated children in the faith, the school is preparing students to become leaders in their community. With the Holy Spirit guiding them, these students are being shaped into individuals who can share the comforting message of God’s grace with everyone they encounter.

Help more children become leaders and evangelists in their communities.

Your donation will help CGO send Bible-based literature to individuals and organizations that are striving to connect people with the Gospel.

Donate Now

Children's Outreach US and Canada

Erica Tape

Written by Erica Tape

Erica Tape is a missionary serving in the Dominican Republic. As a writer and editor, she has worked at Concordia Publishing House, at Concordia Seminary, and as a freelancer. You can usually find her practicing her imperfect Spanish, running, reading, or spending quality time with her husband and daughter.