This Monday, Dec. 25, is the day that millions of Christians across the globe will celebrate as the day that their savior, Jesus Christ, was born. Approximately 3 months later, they will celebrate him and his teachings, which lead to his crucifixion, death and resurrection on Easter Sunday (falling on April 1 in 2018).
But what about what happened afterwards? In the Bible's New Testament, the Book of Acts (sometimes referred to as 'Acts of the Apostles') chronicles the history of the rise of Christianity, immediately after Jesus' ascension into heaven.
It is this story that local evangelical preacher Barry Schoder hopes to bring to light a little later this winter, with a month-long project that he is calling "Fire in February."
"Why is this newspaper article coming out in December, about an event that's still two months away?" Schoder asked during a recent interview. "To allow DL'ers to mobilize the world (both within and without this community's borders) to take part in a month-long initiative to get people to read the Bible's Book of Acts."
Schoder says that not only does Acts conveniently have 28 chapters — allowing one chapter to be read during each of the 28 days of February — but it tells an inspiring story that he hopes will spread, well, like fire.
"The groundwork for this project was originally laid in late September," Schoder said. "It started solely as a Detroit Lakes vision, but within a couple of weeks interest was being expressed both nationally — New York City, Tampa, Minneapolis, to name a few — and internationally, in Australia, Norway, Ethiopia and India. It's taken on a global dimension."
Schoder said that this is a non-denominational project; anyone can join in on reading the Book of Acts, regardless of which church they belong to — or even if they don't belong to a church at all.
"There's a huge variety of options for doing this," he said. "You can read individually, as a family, as a study group... the average reading time for each chapter is about 5 minutes."
Schoder, who is also responsible for organizing the community's annual Bible Reading Marathon, as well as this past summer's project to put up signs with the Lord's Prayer written on them, all along West Lake Drive, and the July 4th "Battle Hymn of the Republic" community sing, says his ultimate vision is "to see Detroit Lakes become a beacon of righteousness."
In other words, he says, he would like to see "such evidence of God's presence in this city that people will be drawn to Detroit Lakes because of it."
Local businesses and community organizations that would like to become a part of this project — and participate in a full-page ad that Schoder will be taking out in the Detroit Lakes Tribune toward the end of January (at no cost to them) — should contact him at 972-757-0078.
"You can text or call," he said. "It's a way for them to say that they, as a business or organization, subscribe to biblical principles of operation."
Those who would like to participate in the Book of Acts bible reading should visit the website at www.fireinfeb.com to register, as well as to learn more about the project.