When Sister Margaret Howard walked next door in early April to visit Pembroke Police Department Lt. Kelly Price at the department’s Miller Village substation, she came armed with a vision.
In it, Howard was able to give a Bible to anyone and everyone who wanted one.
There was one obstacle. Howard, the local president of mission outreach at her church, House of God Keith Dominion, Inc., needed the Bibles.
"She said that for some years she’s had this idea of wanting to do this, but was kind of at an impasse," Price said. "She wanted to know if we could help."
Price, who said Howard is known for singing gospel hymns to herself as she walks along and is someone many in the community rely on "when they need somebody to lean on a little bit," told her he’d do his best.
He got on the phone to PPD Chaplain Jesse France, who put Price in contact with Claxton Mayor Terry Branch, who "was more than willing and able to help," and from there, "things fell together like a puzzle piece."
Branch came up with a box of 50 Bibles. Shortly afterward, Price bumped into Bryan County Family Connections Coordinator Wendy Sims at a juvenile court session. He told her of Howard’s vision and Sims gave Price 50 Bibles.
"So now we’re up to 100," Price said, noting Pembroke City Administrator Alex Floyd was also supportive of the idea, adding that Howard "has been doing good on this earth for a long time."
That 100 was where the total sat Friday afternoon at the PPD substation as Howard spoke about her vision, shortly before Floyd gave her a letter from State Rep. Jan Tankersly saluting her for her work.
"We must put God first in everything we do," Howard said. "I am so concerned about our community. This has been in my heart for quite some time. I want to see every child have a Bible. I’m not saying they don’t have Bibles in their homes, some do, some don’t. But this is my vision and it’s something I love to do. It’s helping people and it’s what I’m going to do to build God’s kingdom."
She’ll hand the Bibles out Saturdays at McDonald’s in Pembroke, which Price said is one of the three places Howard frequents.
"She’s either at home, church or McDonald’s," he said.
The Bibles are free to anyone who asks.
"Black, white, young, old," Howard said. "All they’ve got to do is accept them."
If Price has his way, Howard won’t run out of Bibles to give out anytime soon.
"If anybody is willing to help, have them get in touch with me at the police department or contact city hall," said Price, adding that he and the city are getting something in return.
"This is what Chief (Bill) Collins (Pembroke’s public safety director) expects of his officers," Price said. "To be engaged in the community and help any way we can, and think outside the box. This is a prime example that being a cop isn’t all about a ticket book or toting somebody to jail. It’s also about this kind of stuff, which far outweighs some of the negative stuff we see. And one of the things Sister Howard has made clear is that once these 100 Bibles are depleted, she’s not going to be where she wants to stop, so we’ll help her build up her resource of Bibles as long as she wants."
For her part, Howard said she has no plans to stop what she’s just started. It’s how she sees it.
"I just have a vision, as long as I’m here on this earth, of helping people," she said. "We want our kids to get the best, to put them on the path of righteousness."