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Bibles for Missions holds ground breaking for Fergus thrift store location

by Mike Robinson

FERGUS - While others might be digging in for the winter season, Bibles for Missions is breaking ground to expand its operations here.

On Dec. 17, the local group held a ground breaking ceremony to kick off construction of a new 15,000 square foot facility near Beatty Line.

Klaas Sikkema, president of the local chapter of Bibles for Missions Foundation, said “We’ve been working on this project for about a year and a half now.”

He said the purpose of the foundation “is to attract used clothing and furniture. They sell it, and all the profit from Bibles for Missions goes to poor countries where there are no Bibles.

“They help set up schools, churches and within the local community. We feel this community is available to have that kind of store.”

He added there is a store in Guelph “and they always have a surplus of goods ... So we felt there could be a store in Fergus.”

Sikkema added the decision to build rather than rent was an easy one.

“If you pay for rent, it’s actually a waste of money.”

Frank Oostdyk, director of store development for Eastern Canada for Bibles for Missions, said most of the staff are volunteers although there may be a staff manager.

“That really helps us in generating the profits that we do for the Bible League of Canada.”

He added the spirit of volunteering is key in setting up a store.

“That’s what happened here in Fergus. There was a group that was very interested in getting something started locally.”

Sikkema said weather permitting, he anticipated work getting underway in the next week or two “at least to get a foundation in before winter really starts. It’s a fair sized building.”

He hopes to continue the work of Bibles for Missions.

In the group’s two decade history, he estimated over $35 million has been raised to support projects across the world.

During the sod turning, Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross Zuj wished the group well in its endeavours.

She said that type of work will make a difference in a person’s life.

“I know you’re going to be very busy and that it will take a lot of volunteers to keep it up and running,” she said.

She thanked the group for investing in the community, “and providing a service to so many who need it.”

Oostdyk explained the foundation was established in Chilliwack, British Columbia in 1989 to support the work of The Bible League of Canada.

During the 22 years since that time, both organizations have grown and changed.

“We currently operate 40 thrift stores across Canada. We still have many projects on the go. Fergus is just one. We are growing, and growing rapidly.”

In its first year, the foundation sent $38,000 to the Bible league, and last year, the annual contribution had increased to over $5.6 million, Oostdyk said.

“Each store is operated under the guidance of a local board of directors,” he added.

He noted Sikkema is part of that local group.

“We count on the willing work of numerous volunteers. That is the basis of the operation of the stores. Without them our stores wouldn’t be able to function.”

Through the sale of good quality donated merchandise, funds are raised to help the Bible league accomplish its ministerial objectives around the world.

“Each store provides an opportunity to be a blessing in the local community in a number of ways,” he said.

He said that “those who shop in the stores are able to purchase good quality items at a reasonable and affordable cost, but members of the community who donate those goods can be assured they are being used effectively in another person’s life and that they are not filling up local landfill sites.”

Oostdyk added volunteers can see the generosity of local communities and how the sale of the items can have a positive impact on the lives of others.

It is also a chance to work with like-minded volunteers and see how their effort is making a difference both here and around the  world.

“I have heard it said on many occasions what an amazing thing God is doing through our stores. Who knows how God is turning the donation of a T-shirt to one of our stores into a Bible placed into the hands of someone in the world and a chance for them to accept Jesus into their heart,” Oostdyk said.

“We are so thankful for the work that is done in each of our stores and also for the work already done here in Fergus as preparations are made to start the construction of a brand new building.

He added, “As in so many other communities, we hope that this store will be able to enhance any existing thrift store operations by working together with them, perhaps handling each other’s surplus items or as an avenue to handle donations that cannot be handled for certain reasons.

“We are here to support and enhance the thrift store retail presence in Fergus.”

Oostdyk said, “Congratulations from the BFM Foundation. It has not been a short or easy road to get to this point and we may face more obstacles ahead”.

He noted the Bibles for Missions thrift stores partners with the Bible League so all of the funds generated go to that organization and that group’s work is done internationally.


December 23, 2011


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