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A Thrift Store with a Great Mission
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By Rob Hueniken

The Hyde Park shopping area has a new business in the works: the 41st location of a Bibles for Missions Thrift Store. With an opening date set for October, the BFM team here in London has good work to do, converting and preparing their building at 2020 Hyde Park Road near Fanshawe Road.

Bibles for Missions (BFM) is a volunteer-driven, non-denominational Christian organization that operates thrift stores across Canada, including in St. Thomas, Chatham, and Woodstock. Their main focus is to gather and convert donated goods to funds for the Bible League of Canada, which provides and distributes Bibles and learning materials to more than 40 countries around the world. In 2011, the thrift stores contributed over 5 million dollars while keeping administrative costs down to 7.5% – a testament to its excellent business model and efforts. But the stores also provide help for local community needs, encourage reuse and recycling of clothing and books, and provide bargains to help families stretch their budgets.

At BFM, volunteers play a crucial role, and can be of many ages and denominations. Their contributions average four hours a week but can be up to full-time. There's a real effort to use the talents of volunteers in ways that most suit their interests. The BFM organization practices its Christian heart, creating a place where volunteers feel they are in community and where people enjoy coming to shop and contribute. There is also a focus on being good stewards of the earth God gives us, and all BFM stores are environmentally conscious.

Keith Temple is the board chair for this area, and shared his story of becoming part of this growing Christian organization. "A few years ago I witnessed the enjoyment and even excitement of some of my wife's family as they spoke of volunteering at the Bibles for Missions Thrift store in Guelph. I suggested that they contact me if there was an effort to organize a store in London. I am personally enthused to be part of the humble effort that we can make here in London, to help support the spreading of the gospel around the world. There is much personal enjoyment in witnessing the enthusiasm of each and every volunteer contributing to this purpose. It is very heart-warming!"

The person managing the project is Jack Pieterman. He heads up the work teams converting the large, L-shaped facility to areas for storage, receiving and service, administration and the store itself. It's a big place, and you can get a feel for its size from this article's photos. Jack's wife, Rennie Pieterman is also helping as the volunteer coordinator. One of Jack's connections has a company that can pack clothes into bales, which could be shared with people in other countries, including Guyana. The baling idea is a first for BFM, and a good new way to share with others.

Asked how the people of London can help the Bibles for Missions Thrift Store be a success, Keith Temple said: "The need for devoted volunteers is fundamental to our success, but nothing is more important than all of us including this effort in our personal prayer. And of course, come on out and visit the store when we open."

In the group photo is Keith Temple (board chair), Machiel Talsma (treasurer), Lois Gosney (secretary), Rennie Pieterman (volunteer coordinator) and Jack Pieterman (project manager).

For more information on Bibles for Missions, please visit www.bfmthriftstores.ca.