And the Word became flesh… The Traveling Bible

May 14, 2013

Repeatedly, the young disciple had announced to his teacher, “I have read through the Bible five times,” only to be met by his teacher’s silence. Finally in exasperation, the student announced, “Teacher, did you not hear that I have read through the Bible five times?” 

“Yes,” came the reply softly, “but what is important is not how many times you have been through the Bible, but how many times the Bible has been through you.” 

Perhaps the teacher’s response can best summarize the inspiration that led youth ministry Director Kevin Shipley to begin the “Traveling Bible” project at his parish, St. John the Apostle, in Baytown. 

Shipley had become increasingly aware that teens and adults alike rarely spent time personally reading and reflecting on the Bible outside of the Mass. 

He understood the words of St. Jerome who remarked that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Shipley wanted to help bridge the gap between teens knowing and living the mission of the Church, so he developed a plan where sacred Scripture could empower their lives by literally carrying a Bible with them.

In August, 2009, Shipley invited the youth to carry a “Traveling Bible” for a week as they went to school, work, band, football, shopping and other everyday occurrences. Accompanying the Bible was a journal to document their interactions with those they came into contact. 

He also requested that they list the verses that spoke to them as they explored the riches and weight of God’s Word that they carried.

Each Wednesday night, the teens were offered an opportunity to pass the Bible and journal to one of their peers during their weekly L.I.G.H.T. (Living in God’s Holy Truth) youth nights and pray over them as they began their week with the Traveling Bible. 

In early 2011, the pages of the first journal had become filled, and the true beauty of this project had come to light. 

Teens had written not only about their journey with the Bible, but how their faith had grown as well. They selflessly shared their joy, pain, happiness and struggles in hopes that those who would read their words would know they were not alone and that God’s Word was as relevant today as when it was first shared. 

The youth who recorded their “Traveling Bible” entries gave Shipley permission to share them with the Archdiocese with the hope that others might also discover the love and strength of the Word of God to live as disciples of Jesus. As you read their entries, ask how God’s Word can come more alive for you and your family’s lives. 

What they are writing
“First night to receive the Bible... it’s hard to be excited when you have to come back home and witness the evil of drugs in those you love. 
“Looking for advice, I read the book of Psalms. God help me to learn from your word and become strong in my faith so that things/problems like this won’t tear me down. ‘I love you, LORD, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold! Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies (Psalm 18: 3-4).’” – Jazmine

“So I know people will ask me why I’m carrying a Bible around with me. I am NOT ashamed to tell them about this challenge of my faith. There are many people in my life that have no faith with the Lord, but I hope that I can teach them what I know, and maybe, just maybe, they will begin to grow spiritually.” – Tyler

“This week has been super great! I can’t wait to give this to the next person and share the excitement and joy that came with this... everyone asks you about it and what not, but those questions bring you closer to God!” – Raegan

What they are saying
“The most impactful book during my time with the Traveling Bible was when I read from the book of Job. Job was a good man who recently had suffered greatly, but despite his suffering he still glorified God’s will. I was simply in awe at how someone could have such unflinching faith and trust in God after everything that had happened to him. 

“This was the exact message I needed at that point in my life and it helped me not only grow in my faith, but also encouraged me to continue my discernment towards the priesthood.” – Michael 

“When I had the Bible, I felt connected to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Through this project we were able to learn from each other’s experiences and grow together in faith. To me, the Bible creates a bond between the youth while also sparking one’s interest in the word of God.” – Erin 

“The Traveling Bible helped me find great significance to the Word of God. Although at that time, spiritually, I did not grasp the magnitude of its words, this project helped open the door for God to lead me on a journey of discovery and helped build a faith that would begin to revolve around Scripture.” – Jacob