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Tools: The “Sacred Treasure House Initiative”

A Miner's Tools

TOOLS. If you forced me to distill my recent ministry trip to Nicaragua into a single word, that would be the one I'd choose — tools. Let me explain.

Shortly after I was born again (July 31, 1968 – almost 49 years ago!) at age 16, I became an avid Bible reader. I learned that the words of Edwin Hodder's hymn were true:

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine;
And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths
For every searcher there.
Miners need basic tools to pursue their mining activities — a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow, at the very least. Desiring to be a “Bible miner,” I discovered that the basic tools of mining the “jewels” of God's truth were:
  • An exhaustive Bible concordance;
  • An illustrated Bible dictionary; and,
  • A one-volume Bible commentary.

One of my new Christian friends pointed me to Sacred Treasure House, a small Christian bookstore in the town where I lived.

Sacred Treasure House, Costa Mesa, California

My old stomping grounds — Sacred Treasure House —
where I purchased all of my early Bible-study tools.
(Source: Costa Mesa Historical Society. Used by permission.)

Many of my part-time-job paychecks were spent there, buying “mining tools.” My first purchase was Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and my second was Smith's Bible Dictionary. (The flyleaf of the latter tells me that I paid the handsome sum of $4.50 nearly five decades ago.) These two volumes are still the foundation of the Bible-teaching library that surrounds me here in my office today. Yes, though showing signs of loving use, I still have these very books 49 years later. They have served me as sturdy “mining tools” through decades of pastoring, preaching, and now traveling as an “itinerant missionary Bible teacher.”

Jim Kerwin's copies of Strong's Exhaustive Bible Concordance and Smith's Bible Dictionary

49 years and still going strong – my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
and my Smith's Bible Dictionary

Mining—With No Tools!


Pastor Nelson with his new “tools”

Fast-forward to 2014, my first teaching visit to Nicaragua. I could see that the pastors of the Quilalí area were in the same situation in which I had found the Guatemalan pastors in 2008 – most of them were “mining” without these Bible-study tools. On a rural pastor's meager income, spending the equivalent of one or two months' salary on Bible-study books is out of the question.

I've been praying since 2014 about that situation, trying to make contacts, and track down leads and prices. In May, I went down to Nicaragua a few days early (that is, before the teaching started) and made contact with the Nicaraguan Bible Society in Managua. They've agreed to sell us these three tools at a 20% discount. With $200 which had been donated already, I purchased six books (3 illustrated Bible dictionaries and 3 one-volume commentaries, the exhaustive concordances being out of stock) and took them with me, as a kind of “firstfruits” or “earnest,” for delivery in Quilalí.

“I Looked with Longing…”


Pastor Feliciano [R] with his wife, Pastora Rut

We arrived in Quilalí, Nicaragua the afternoon before the three-day pastor/leader training sessions started. To make a long story short, I met with three area leaders who are preachers, supervisors, teachers of other pastors – one of them even a teacher in the local Christian school – and not one of them had these basic tools! So on your behalf I presented to each of these three their own new illustrated Bible dictionary and commentary.

Pastor Feliciano, with his eyes tearing up, said, “I saw these for sale on a book table at a pastor's conference last year, and I looked with longing. But then I turned away, and as I walked, I said, ‘Lord, I would really like those for my ministry some day.'”

The “Sacred Treasure House Initiative”

Beloved, we can make that “some day” come soon for others! I left Quilalí last month with “the name, rank, and serial number” (the latter almost literally!) of every one of the 27 pastors in attendance. Would you like to be one of these ministers, responsible, say, for pastoring three churches, winning souls, and discipling members — all without these basic “mining tools” for studying God's Word? No? Me neither!

Well, would you DO something about it if you could? Because now you can! Drawing on my personal history of Bible study, I'm introducing The Sacred Treasure House Initiative: Quilalí. These necessary “tools,” which I could afford to buy at my beloved Bible bookstore even in my teen years, are way beyond the financial reach of these rural leaders. For US $105 you can supply one pastor with a complete set of these basic Bible-study tools – hardback Spanish-language versions of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, an illustrated Bible dictionary, and a one-volume Matthew Henry's Commentary.

[L] Pastors Norlan & Nelson, [R] Pastores Rut & Feliciano.
Imagine equipping dozens of other pastors as well!

That hymn I mentioned earlier opens the final verse with this line:
O may I love Thy precious Word,
May I explore the Mine!

Help these “miners” explore the “Mine.” Please pray and give, and share the need for their tools. Many of you can give $105. Others can enlist your cell group or Sunday school class or women's Bible study or men's ministry. The fundraising deadline is December 31st, so we have to start now. That will allow time during the first three months of 2018 to order, pay for, and pre-position the books for delivery. Lord willing, with your help, my job on my next visit will be to deliver the books and teach the pastors how to use them!

Please help these Nicaraguan pastors through our Sacred Treasure House Initiative.

Much love in Jesus,


Credits: Shots of Quilalí pastors courtesy of team member Frederico Juarbe. Book shot by Denise Kerwin. Photo of Sacred Treasure House used by permission of the Costa Mesa Historical Society.
Special Thanks to Christopher Edwards, Costa Mesa Library reference librarian and Mary Ellen Goddard, archivist for the Costa Mesa Historical Society, for their help in locating the photo of Sacred Treasure House!
3 comments… add one
  • Jim Kerwin July 7, 2017, 8:32 am

    Friday, 7 July update: I’m encouraged. This morning I received a PayPal confirmation that a Canadian brother has sponsored one pastors’ book set. Another e-mail from Virginia let me know that a check is in the mail for two sets of books. And I have pledges from a church in Florida for two more sets and from a small Virginia church for three sets! Praise God!

    • Jim Kerwin July 31, 2017, 4:56 pm

      Monday, 31 July Update: By the time I left for Honduras last Thursday morning (27 July 2017), we had received sufficient gifts to cover the purchase of 10 complete book sets. I’m excited to check the mail when I return next week!

    • Jim Kerwin October 16, 2017, 8:15 pm

      Monday, 16 October update: We’re making solid, steady progress on this, so much so, in fact, that the story deserves its own report — https://finestofthewheat.org/22-15-Peru.

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