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CULTURE DIGEST: Tyndale House founder dies; Rick Warren, others join ‘ONE’ campaign against poverty

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Kenneth Taylor, founder of Tyndale House Publishers and translator of “The Living Bible,” died at his home in Wheaton, Ill., June 10. He was 88.

“Making Scripture accessible for all people was my father’s passion,” his son and Tyndale President Mark Taylor said. “Many, many people have told him, ‘I became a Christian when I read The Living Bible,’ or ‘My first Bible was the green-padded Living Bible.’ Even at 88 years old, his enthusiasm and fervor for his work never waned.”

Taylor was inspired to undertake the Living Bible paraphrase when he realized the widely used King James Version was becoming difficult for newer generations, especially his 10 children, to understand. He began to reword specific passages in simple, conversational language easy enough for even his youngest child to grasp, according to Tyndale spokesperson Mavis Sanders.

In 1962, Taylor had finished paraphrasing the New Testament epistles into a collection he called “Living Letters.” When no publishers were interested in the translation, he and his wife, Margaret, decided to publish 2,000 copies themselves. He gave the operation the name “Tyndale House Publishers” after William Tyndale, the 16th-century reformer who was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English.

“In its early days, Tyndale House was literally a kitchen table operation,” Sanders said. “The older daughters typed Taylor’s manuscripts, Margaret typed invoices and mailing labels, and the younger children stuffed envelopes and packed books ordered by bookstores.”

By 1971, Taylor released the complete Living Bible, published by Tyndale. When Billy Graham began promoting Taylor’s translations on his television broadcasts, sales picked up quickly and the version became the best-selling book in the United States for three years.

“Taylor and his wife committed from the start to deposit all profits from The Living Bible into a charitable trust, insisting that the Bible’s royalties be donated to Tyndale House Foundation,” Sanders said. “The foundation supports mission projects around the world and today continues to promote Taylor’s vision and mission of making the Bible accessible and available to everyone.”

To date, The Living Bible has sold more than 40 million copies, and portions or entire Bibles are available in more than 100 languages.

Taylor is survived by his wife, 10 children, 28 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

‘ONE’ CAMPAIGN AGAINST POVERTY DRAWS CHRISTIAN SUPPORTERS — Rick Warren, Third Day, Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay and other Christian leaders have added their signatures and support to “ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History,” which was started by a diverse coalition of faith-based and humanitarian organizations to fight global AIDS and poverty.

“The ONE Campaign seeks to give Americans a voice, to ring church bells and cell phones, on campuses and in coffee shops, for an historic pact to fight the global AIDS emergency and end extreme poverty,” according to the campaign’s website, www.one.org. “We believe that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries.”

In an open letter June 3, Warren said he has never been involved in partisan politics and doesn’t intend to start now, but global poverty “is an issue that rises far above mere politics. It is a moral issue … a compassion issue.” He urged fellow Christians to get involved in fighting poverty, starting with signing a letter challenging President Bush to “take specific, measurable actions to fight poverty, hunger and disease” at the Group of Eight summit in Scotland in July.

The letter to Bush notes that “ONE billion people around the world live on less than ONE dollar a day, the U.S. government spends less than ONE percent [of its budget] on overcoming global AIDS and poverty, and citizens are uniting as ONE across political and religious divides to support action to overcome the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty.”

“At the G8 leaders meeting on July 6 we urge you to: Help the poorest people of the world fight poverty, AIDS and hunger at a cost equal to just ONE percent more of the U.S. budget on a clear timetable; cancel 100 percent of the debts owed by the poorest countries; [and] reform trade rules so poor countries can earn sustainable incomes,” the letter to Bush continues.

Warren said his motivation for lending his name and prayers to the ONE campaign stems from 1 John 3:17, which says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

“I deeply believe that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God’s love for the world,” Warren wrote, adding that, “We all grieved when 250,000 lives were lost in the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But there is a health tsunami of that proportion in Africa every 12 days!”

For more information, visit www.one.org.

FILM ABOUT COLUMBINE’S RACHEL SCOTT COMPETES FOR AWARD — “Rachel’s Challenge,” a documentary about Columbine shooting victim Rachel Scott, is one of five finalists for a short film competition sponsored by Amazon.com and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival, and producers are hoping Christians will vote for the film in a poll to determine the winner.

Scott is known for refusing to deny her belief in God just before she was shot to death in the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. A collection of her writings, including poems and letters she wrote to God, was released after her death as a testament to her strong faith.

Her story has been highlighted in a seven-minute film produced by ViaMedia, a Midland, Texas,-based company that makes positive moral programming. “Rachel’s Challenge” emerged from a story ViaMedia was developing for a segment of a television series called “Everyday Heroes.” Jon Lindgren, the company’s president, decided to enter it in the contest despite the fact that a blatantly Christian film had little chance of winning.

“For years we Christians have been complaining about the decadent negative programming being broadcast throughout the world … so I decided this contest was an opportunity to glorify God with that type of programming whether we win or not,” Lindgren said. “I must say it was very encouraging to know that the general public voted us into a top five position regardless of the Christian message.”

ViaMedia is urging Christians to cast a five-star vote for Rachel’s Challenge before the contest ends Friday, June 17. To view the film and to vote, visit www.amazon.com/screeningroom.

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  • Erin Curry