AP Images/Gary Kazanjian
Gas prices are finally starting to slowly climb back down in the
U.S., and the costs are expected to continue their decline. Over the
past few months oil prices have gone down, and yet shipping costs—which rose with the rise in oil costs over the last few years—remain
Oil prices are still higher than they were a year ago, which is part of
the reason that shipping costs have remained higher as
well. Even as oil prices go down, some shipping companies are playing
Increased shipping costs have presented a significant dilemma for
ministries attempting to send large amounts of aid or resources to far-away nations. Global Aid Network (GAiN),
for example, has millions of meals prepared to send to East Africa
where severe drought has thrown millions into levels of starvation.
However, GAiN has had difficulty procuring the funds to actually send
the food to Africa.
In another case, shipping costs are directly affecting the spread of the gospel.
“[In] one of the locations that we just sent to, [shipping] was
literally $2,000 more than it was last year at this time,” says Jason Woolford, the
executive director of Christian Resources International.
CRI ships Christian literature and Bibles to Christians across the
globe, many of whom are pastors and church leaders but have never owned a
Bible. For many, it can be dangerous or just financially difficult to
obtain Christian resources. But when CRI comes in with thousands of
dollars worth of books, they’re able to get study Bibles, commentaries,
devotionals and more for free, equipping them to better preach the gospel and strengthen their faith.
“We have four sea containers and Great Crates that are waiting to go
that represent about $50,000.” The next two containers are scheduled to
go to Jamaica and Democratic Republic of Congo. The container headed to
Congo is going to rebuild the entire library of a Bible college that was
burned down by Muslim extremists.
CRI gets donations of old and new books alike to their Michigan
warehouse all the time, but as shipping prices rise, sending these
resources out gets much more difficult. If $50,000 doesn’t come in
throughout the year, Woolford says, “It means that in fact we can’t send
as many containers, which means we can’t receive as many materials.”
The effect of fewer containers sent is severe. “It would mean that
certain Bible colleges wouldn’t be able to get their accreditation. It
would mean that the person that is preaching, if you can imagine, a
gentleman preaching his sermons for three months out of one little Daily
Bread—it would mean people like him not being able to have a Bible or a pastor’s library.”
Essentially, this chain reaction of events starting with rising shipping
prices results in fewer people reached by the gospel. CRI frequently
reminds believers that one Bible can reach up to 40,000 people in some
cases. Far fewer Bibles and books getting into the hands of believers
without proper funding could mean hundreds of thousands fewer ears
hearing the Good News.
The stakes are incredibly high. CRI is still on track to send $5 million
in free books across the globe by the end of 2011, but no matter how
many books come in, that goal won’t be reached without funding for
shipping. Higher shipping prices come at an especially bad time now,
during the “death months” for ministries financially: July and August.