BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: MEET MIGUEL JACKSON OF THE WORLD BIBLE PROJECT
Anyone who has ever been able to turn an idea into a viable business or organization will tell you that there is no other feeling like it. To see your plans come to fruition, it is indeed an accomplishment, to which many aspire. For those with a benevolent purpose, the feeling can mean even more. As Miguel Jackson shares, “When you are building an organization and you are starting it from in your brain, to bring it to fruition, it is a lot of hard work and it costs a lot, but it’s worth it.” For Jackson, his journey from inspired to established has been a labor of love for his community, the world and his faith.
Jackson is the founder of the World Bible Project (The Project)–a New York City based organization. As one might assume, it is a “faith based organization whose mission is to distribute free Bibles to any persons or organizations in need.” For Jackson, starting The Project was more than just fulfilling a humanitarian need, it was spawned from the seed of his own personal transformation.
He founded the nonprofit organization in 2011, after beginning his faith journey. Although he had been raised Catholic, for many years, he did not exemplify his faith or religion. Jackson admits, “Even though I grew up Catholic, as a child, I couldn’t get into it; I thought it was boring.” Unfortunately, poor decisions made as an adolescent would affect him for years to come, reaching into adulthood. By age 16 he was smoking marijuana and drinking. A now sober Jackson opines, “Then you get into bad things. You don’t become a bad person, but you end up doing things that are not good for you or Christian-like.” His story culminated in 2004, when he found himself in the midst of the a divorce and dealing with the loss of his mother. It was at that point that Jackson realized that he needed to make serious changes in his life.
In 2006, he became a Christian and began delving deeply into his faith. Jackson admits that even after beginning his transformation, he was still a work in progress, as he continued to deal with old habits. He shares, “After reading a lot of books and the Bible, going to church and getting into the Word, it started transforming my life.” He slowly began to change–forgoing drinking and womanizing and other immoral behaviors. With a renewed perspective, he was able to move forward with his life.
A short while later, Jackson was surprised to learn that many Christians had not even read the complete Bible; he himself has read it five times. This prompted him to start The Project.
While there are similar organizations, The Project is different in that all Bibles are distributed with the recipient in mind, such as children and teens receiving age-appropriate versions of the Bibles. In addition to providing Bibles, the organization also provides each person with a one-year reading plan. This is a very important aspect for Jackson who says, “It’s a very daunting task to try to read the Bible from cover to cover; if they have a plan, that divides the reading into a daily amount, it’s easier to complete reading the Bible.”
Jackson recently retired–after a 36-year career–but started the organization while still working as a manager for the department of motor vehicles in New York. He cites his work experience as having provided a great proving ground for his endeavors as a nonprofit founder. “[Just] be diligent in whatever you do,” he shares. Whether you are building something from the ground up or managing an established organization, as Jackson says, “You have to have a method to your madness; you can get lazy and distracted, if you are not careful.” In addition, he credits his fiancé Shina with being his rock. The two met early on in Jackson’s journey and she has provided a great deal of moral support, as well as guidance. “She’s a Christian woman who is solid in her faith. When we met, she already had that solid faith; she’s been an inspiration,” raves Jackson.
Though The Project has a mission that some might consider divine, it is not without challenges. Of course, funding for any (relatively new) nonprofit is an issue. As Jackson shares, “Most of the funding comes from my own pocket.” While the requests for the Bibles remain strong, there aren’t many opportunities for funding such programs, like The Project.
The lack of outside funding doesn’t deter him at all, though. Since founding The Project, the organization has sent over 3,000 Bibles to people worldwide. “The cost is necessary for [sending to] people across the globe, but the money means less than sending someone their first Bible.”
As the organization grows, Jackson hopes to also extend the mission. For him, it all boils down to, “helping those who need a path or way to help themselves.” In 2013, The Project began awarding a $250 scholarship. This year the organization will expand the mission to include job and life skills readiness programs. He quotes the familiar saying, “Give a man a fish…” as one that he aspires to for his organization. Says Jackson, “Hand-outs are great and fine, but sustaining self is better. We want to ultimately give people the tools to “feed” themselves.” He points out that self-sufficiency is so important–especially within the Black community. More than just giving people the tools to be financially independent, self-sufficiency provides people with a sense of pride and self-respect that cannot be easily taken away.
When it comes to Minding Your Black Business Jackson believes that there are two important factors in achieving prosperity within the Black community. “Family is one, with strong parents instilling values and faith in our children,” says Jackson. If we are to have a future within our community, we must arm our future. That includes strong parental influences exemplifying values and teaching our children. He adds that the second factor is education. “You don’t have to be college educated, because it is not for everyone. [However], If you are educated, that means everything.” And as the saying goes, knowledge is power.
If you would like to learn more about Miguel Jackson and the World Bible Project, visit the website