On a mission trip to Thailand, Pastor Robert Hughes reached into a box to get the scriptural booklets he would be handing out on the streets of Bangkok.
When he pulled them out, he saw the cover bore the name of his church back in Marietta, Ohio - Souls Harbor Baptist.
"We had produced these scriptures here, having no idea I would be meeting them there," he said Tuesday morning as more than 30 members of the church worked to collate, staple and assemble thousands more of the booklets, these in Spanish.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Souls Harbor Baptist Church members, work to fold and smooth covers for booklets containing Spanish translations of the books of John and Romans from the King James Bible Tuesday at the Marietta Township church.
Since November 1999, Souls Harbors Baptist members have assembled nearly 2.3 million booklets, most of them containing the biblical books of John and Romans, translated into more than a dozen languages, including French Creole, Portugese, Swahili, Russian, Cebuano and Tagalog.
Church member Larry Rake, 74, has served as director of the Seedline program since it started more than 12 years ago, not long after he retired from construction work. He said the booklets are intended both for people who aren't believers and those who believe in Christ and want to learn more.
"We just would like to have everyone in the world to have one of these so they could grow in their knowledge of the Lord or come to accept Him as their lord and savior," he said.
2,288,763 - Booklets of scripture that members of Souls Harbor Baptist Church have assembled since November 1999.
14,490 - Booklets assembled in January.
3,250 - Booklets assembled on a typical Tuesday.
1 - Bible translations used. Although the scriptures are offered in more than a dozen languages, they all are directly translated from the 1611 King James Bible, the only version recognized by Souls Harbor and First Baptist Church of Milford, Ohio, where the Bearing Precious Seed ministry is based.
Source: Souls Harbor Baptist Church.
The church purchases bundles of pages from First Baptist Church in Milford, Ohio, headquarters of the Bearing Precious Seed ministry. Souls Harbor members separate and collate the pages, fold and smooth the covers, put them together and staple the booklets before returning them to the Milford church. From there, the books are sent to missionaries in countries like Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa and more. English versions are also made, printed with the names of the individual American churches who will receive them.
The church pays for materials and equipment through its Wednesday night offerings. Rake said he tries to time production so that the latest batch will be finished when there's enough money to purchase a new load, which usually costs about $5,000 and makes about 46,000 booklets.
More than 30 members attend the weekly Tuesday assembly sessions and Hughes said others have found different ways to serve since they can't fit any more people in their current location.
Those working Tuesday ranged in age from 33 to 94. Some had been with the ministry since the start, others for several years, and a few, just a matter of months.
Rake joked the food, including donuts and fruit, and coffee keep people coming back. And there was plenty of laughter - and at least one jokingly hurled grape - in the room.
But the church members are also quite serious about their task.
"These go all over the world," said Carolyn Campbell, 66, who has worked with her husband, Buddy, in the Seedline ministry for about eight years. "Someday in heaven, I want somebody to tap me on the shoulder; I'll turn around, and they'll say, 'Thanks.' That's the reason I come."
Member Floyd Schmidt, 73, has worked on the effort for nearly 10 years. Stationed at one of 10 commercial electric staplers at a table, he recalled when there were only three or four of those devices and the shearing machine, which cuts excess paper off the pages, wasn't automated.
"You had to shear three times to get a book," he said. "It was a slow process. ... But we had a good time."
Schmidt attended the sessions with his wife, Wanda, who passed away earlier this month. He said returning to the fellowship of the scripture-assembling group has been a blessing to him.
"Mentally, it has really helped me, getting back with Christian friends," he said.