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The First Bible and The Fishing Net

More than twenty years ago Donald Stamps, an Assemblies of God missionary to Brazil, had a vision to create a study Bible that would provide Brazilian pastors, most of whom did not have the financial resources to invest in a personal library, with a one volume theological goldmine of biblical truth. Shortly after completing the notes, he went to be with the Lord. But the vision lived on. Not only was his work, at first known as the Full Life Study Bible, known better today as the Fire Bible or, in English, the Life in the Spirit Study Bible, translated into Portuguese, the language of Brazil, it has also been translated into thirty-seven other languages, including Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, where Debbie and I live and serve. In just a few months, the Fire Bible will be rolling off the presses in Cebuano, another major language of the Philippines. As with Tagalog, I am the managing editor of the Cebuano edition.

These Bibles don’t just appear overnight. A lot of work must be done both in the States and on the field.  In the States, funds must be raised. When the Tagalog edition came out in 2004, the price tag was about $162,000.  The Cebuano edition, at the time of this writing, will cost about $318,000, most of which has still not been raised (if you would like to help, please visit On the field, a managing editor, normally an AGWM missionary must be chosen and contracts must be signed with the local Bible Society for rights to their Bible translations. Then translators and editors must be selected and trained. In time, secretaries, copy editors, readers, and other people need to be added.  This phase of the project alone normally takes about two and one half years.

As the various notes and articles are completed, they are sent, normally over the Internet, to LIFE Publishers, the publishing arm of the Assemblies of God World Missions, who oversees the projects. Thanks to modern technology, their superb staff does the layout in languages they cannot even read.  As the layout is completed, the files are sent back to the field for further proofreading and correction. When the translation phase is finished, LIFE Publishers outsources the printing and binding all over the world, always looking for the best quality at a reasonable price.  For example, the Tagalog edition was printed in Japan and bound in Indonesia before being sent back to the Philippines. The Cebuano edition will be printed and bound in Belarus (White Russia) and will then sent to the Philippines for marketing and distribution in about August or September of this year. Needless to say, we are excited about its arrival!

But what does all this have to do with a fishing net?

The answer is, well, rather simple. Several years ago God gave my wife a prophetic word that he was going to send an unprecedented revival to the Philippines, a land that has seen wonderful seasons of refreshing in the past. God also commanded us to “get ready, get ready, get ready.” How does one prepare for revival? By making a fishing net.  Not the kind that comes from a pole with a short scoop on the end but the kind that is staked out in the ocean at night, tied to huge hawser ropes at least two hundred feet in length, and takes entire fishing village to haul in to shore in the morning. Like any good fishing net there are many interlocking strands that must be woven in for the net to be strong.

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About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. Facebook Twitter

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