Texan hopes manuals steer car buyers right
___By Jeff Huett
___DENISON (ABP)--Pulling the owner's manual out of the glove compartment is one of the first acts a new car owner performs after making that big purchase. If Ray Ridings and his non-profit organization have anything to do with it, car buyers also will retrieve an "Owner's Manual for Life"--the Bible--in addition to the handbook they expect to find.
___An owner of several dealerships over his 35 years in the automobile industry, Ridings knows the impact this ministry could have. And with 70 million new and used cars and trucks being sold in America every year, he knew he could make an impact on an "unlimited" number of people if he could just get the Bibles in the vehicles.
___To do that, he would need the support of car dealers.
___"It's hard to reach auto dealers through the mail or on the phone, "Ridings said. "You need to eye-ball them."
___So that's what he did.
___Since the original printing in 1997, Owner's Manual for Life Inc., has placed its Bibles in 60 dealerships in Texas.
___"I basically do this by myself," Ridings said, "so it's a slow process." He estimates he has sold 68,000 Bibles to dealers since 1997.
___Dealerships are asked to purchase the Bibles at $1.50 each and place them in the glove box of each car they sell. To Ridings, "if it makes a difference in one out of every 10,000 people, I'm committed because that's what God wants me to do."
___Bobby Price began placing the New International Version New Testaments in automobiles at his Sulfur Springs Ford dealership when the program began in 1997. He estimates he has given away 7,200 Bibles in his new, used and fleet vehicles.
___"I've had very positive responses from customers," Price said.
___The Bibles also have had an effect on the dealership's employees. Price said his employees are proud to mention the "Owner's Manual" to buyers.
___Price and Ridings, who have been friends since before each got into the car business, share their enthusiasm for the program. Ridings' enthusiasm stems from his 12 years as a member of the Gideons.
___In addition to the New Testament text, the owner's manuals feature sections on general Bible information, instructions and self-help guidelines and study guides to aid its readers.
___The only sticking point so far is organization. Currently, the organization consists of Ridings and a board of directors that adds an additional two or three sets of hands.
___"I need to get organized and get other people interested in the ministry to get it put across the country," Ridings said. He would like to get young people involved and set up a large network of dealers.
___For more information, contact Owner's Manual for Life, P.O. Box 96, Sherman, 75091 or call (903) 892-9293.
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