Bonnie the Bible lady
GREEN FOREST -- Bonnie Roediger is deeply committed to her Christian faith and to the Bible as the word of God, but if you ask, she will tell you that it's not about this or that church. She has belonged to several throughout her life.
"We believe God takes us wherever needed to minister to people, and that's why church denomination is not that important because I think we're all going to be in heaven together because we're all the family of God," she says.
Bonnie is the person who started the Bible-reading marathon in Carroll County three years ago. It's held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer, this year's 61st.
Bonnie grew up in Douglas, Wyo. Her family did not go to church, but her aunt took her to vacation Bible school, and at the age of 8 Bonnie accepted the Lord.
Bonnie married Jesse out of high school. The couple moved frequently, sometimes to be near family members needing assistance, and at others for Jesse's job, and went to different churches and different denominations.
They have lived all over the country, from Aspen, Colo., to Louisiana and back to Douglas.
After attending a leadership summit around the National Day of Prayer in Colorado Springs, Bonnie "got a hunger to put to God's word out on the airways" and promote people reading the Bible.
That was 20 years ago.
In 2000 Jesse and Bonnie were "rattling around" in their 4,500-square-foot home in Douglas after their daughters had left to start their own lives.
Bonnie had been a teacher and Bible study leader.
"God had given us a vision to get a fifth-wheel where we could just go wherever He called us. We sold our home and everything and moved around where he sent us."
They went to Nevada, "and that was a big mission field and a blessing to be there." Then God took them to Arizona for a few years. Part of their travels involved helping family members through health and other challenges.
But in the midst of all that, Bonnie said, God "really humbled us."
In June 2003, she was diagnosed with MS.
"That was a really tough time for us, but by the grace of God, the only residual I have is that my hands seem to be numb 24/7 and my feet sometimes when I stand on them a lot. I have vision loss in my left eye."
That is a miracle from what it was, she said. There was a time when she couldn't do anything, couldn't even get out of bed.
Her health struggles tested her resolve.
"By Jesus Christ are we healed," she said. "Do we believe his word; do we accept his word; do we live it out every day?"
She said God humbled her because she had put Him in a box.
"I just wanted to believe in all of the blessings and the good things and the way I wanted it to come out," Bonnie said. "That's not what God had planned."
Finally God told her to "get up and do what He'd been telling me to do. I said, 'By your power, I can do it.'"
And she did.
She said most people don't know this story about her; it's not something she usually shares. But she hopes it will inspire others.
Sharing God's word got to be a vital and important part of her life, she said. The marathon is her way of giving back to God what she feels she has been given.
"It seems like every time I read through the Bible -- and I've tried to do that on a continuous basis for the last four years -- I get something new. I think God does that for us at different times."
Bonnie and Jesse moved to Green Forest in 2006 when their daughter was graduating from college, and here they've stayed.
The Carroll County Bible-reading marathon was the first such event in the state.
Bonnie thinks it is no accident that this event started in Carroll County, as she contemplates the larger picture.
"God's purpose for Carroll County is to be a light," she said. "When God moved on my heart for the Bible-reading marathon to begin three years ago, and it being the first in the state, I believe Carroll County is to be a light for the state and the rest of the nation about how His word and prayers can accomplish anything.
"But we have to be that light, the church that people want to come to and not stay away from. Our actions bring glory and honor to Him, and that's what I hope this county is, a light, a glory to God."