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The Gideon International funded more than 700 "Life Books" for all of Campbellsville University athletes to receive during the fall semester.
The "Life Book," by Carl Blunt, is a small book with 110 pages containing the gospel. All athletes at CU will be receiving the book.
Campbellsville residents Dr. W.R. Davenport, former president of CU and former international president of The Gideons, said, "The Life Book Movement is a relatively new initiative of The Gideons International that makes a small book of Christian witness available for students to give to other students during school."
He said it contains a short recap of the Old Testament, the entire Gospel of John from the New Testament of the Bible, scriptural answers to questions and issues that young people face and an opportunity to trust Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.
He said the program is designed for high school students, but may, under certain instances, be available to "parachurch" institutions such as CU.
Davenport said the costs of the program are born by The Gideons International as an administrative expense so The Life Books are free to users. He said the books might be obtained only by appropriate order by authorized persons. More than 12.2 million books have been distributed.
"The basic purpose of The Life Book Movement, as designed by The Gideons International, is to provide for Christian students a witnessing resource to give to other students to encourage them to consider the claims of Jesus Christ in their own lives and, hopefully, lead them to become followers of Jesus," Davenport said.
Throughout The Life Book there are interactive handwritten reactions in the margins from five characters including an adult youth leader and four youth ranging from an agnostic to a strong believer. The book is conveniently small-about the size of a CD case.
Rusty Hollingsworth, CU's director of athletics, said, "We have a great responsibility as coaches and administrators to present the gospel to our student-athletes. The Life Book is a unique way to incorporate scripture into the daily life of our athletes."
He said The Life Book teaches them about the life of Christ and helps answer tough questions about where their life is in relation to Christ.
"We are all very excited to be able to make this happen through The Big Maroon Club," he said.
Dr. Ted Taylor, director of the Big Maroon Club, and Larry Bowen, with The Gideons, made the presentations to student athletes in volleyball, football and soccer.
"The goal of the Big Maroon Club is not only raising money for athletic fields and money for the teams, but we are interested in presenting the gospel, becoming Champions of Characters and encouraging Bible studies to make sure our students get closer to God," Taylor said.
"Coach Amy [Zink] and I are extremely proud to be a part of Campbellsville University because of their commitment to ensuring that our athletes are not only taken care of in the arena of competition, but also for making sure that we can be set free by knowing the truth in the gospel of Christ," Billy Gregory, assistant volleyball coach, said.
Bailey McDonough, a senior from Owensboro, is a member of the Lady Tiger soccer team. She said The Life Book gives "a simplistic version of the gospel to both boys and girls that may be intimidated by such a hefty book as a Bible."
She said it offers opportunity for those who may not know or understand scripture to become better acquainted with it.
"It has helped me personally because it has become easily accessible for use due to its small size, and I can relate to the various comments on the scripture itself provided by other individuals of all ages," she said.
Perry Thomas, head football coach, also thanked The Gideons for the books and said, "Dr. Taylor spoke to the guys, and Mr. Bowen led us in closing prayer. We know that efforts like this will touch someone on this team and could change their life. I'm sure the guys are really going to enjoy the book," he said.
Davian Evans-Dufrene, a freshman from Bradenton, Fla., who is on the football team, said the book has "helped me out because my life is slowing down, and I am starting to see the purpose of my life."
He said The Life Book has made it easier for him to understand what Jesus did for us and why he did it.
"The sections in the book give me help on things like relationships, love and peer pressure."
"For those who are already believers, these materials can help strengthen their faith and commitment," Davenport said.
"Christian students receiving the books may also choose to give their copy to a friend who still needs Jesus," he said. "For those who are not yet Christians, these materials may be helpful in helping them come to faith and to receiving Jesus as their own Lord and Savior."
For more about The Life Books, visit www.thelifebook.com.