Re-writing entire Bible helps Corvallis man to read, find God

By Sheila Allen, Northwest Baptist Witness
NW Baptist Convention

CORVALLIS, Ore. —Chester Correll would never claim he has the quickest pen, but speed was not essential when he began writing the Bible out, verse by verse, in longhand. Correll grew up in Corvallis, Ore., the middle child of three sons born into the family. He attended special education classes while attending school, but he never learned to read. After finishing his classes at local public schools, Correll joined a training program for handicapped adults in Corvallis. “They helped me get a job with the postal service in 1965,” Correll said. “I worked in maintenance for 35 years through a program where they hired the handicapped. I was a custodian and helped keep things clean.” While Correll had never felt he was ready to learn to read, God began to change him.

“I started going to Grant Avenue Baptist Church in 1991,” Correll said. “A friend invited me there and that’s when I accepted Christ as my Savior. Roy Belcher was the pastor then and he baptized me.”  Correll began working with a tutor through Linn Benton Community College in Corvallis and started with the popular “Hooked on Phonics” reading program several years ago.

“It was really hard,” Correll said. “Then that program closed, but my tutor continued helping me as a volunteer. We study during the year while the college has classes.”   A friend at Grant Avenue gave Correll a children’s Bible and he began sensing God telling him that he was ready to learn to read. “My tutor challenged me in 2003 to write the Bible,” Correll said. “I was scared and thought there is no way I can do this. But now I know I can do anything with God’s leading.”

Correll spends hours each day laboring to write consecutive verses. He first reads the verses, then writes them out by hand and then reads them again. He completed the monumental task in 2007, more than four years after the challenge was issued.  “I use a book marker to know the place I left off at the day before,” Correll noted. “I spell the words out and learn a new word once in a while.”

But Correll was not satisfied when he filled 11 notebooks with written verses. The church gave him a different translation and he immediately began to work.

“I get up in the morning and try to get to work by 8,” Correll said. “I spend three hours each day writing the verses and when I travel I still try to do them, too. When my brothers take me camping and fishing, sometimes I can only work for an hour.”

The 64-year-old travels the town on a bicycle, a sometimes unpleasant prospect on cold, rainy days. But Correll never fails to show up for his afternoon job cleaning classrooms at the daycare operated for the community at the Grant Avenue church.

“Chester has a wonderful and contagious love of the scriptures,” said Pastor Don Reeves. “When he shared with the church family that he had completed writing out the entire KJV Bible, we were shocked, amazed and humbled. Every day he’s at the church he stops by to tell me where he is in the Bible. Without fail he will tell me how much he loves reading the Bible. It is convicting and humbling for me to see and hear his excitement about reading God’s word.”

“I love it,” Correll said of his daily Bible reading and writing. “My heart feels great. Now I can go to a restaurant and read ‘chicken cordon bleu’, where I used to have to point or have someone read it to me. Now I can do it on my own.”

Correll picks up books at garage sales around town, and lists Peter Pan as a favorite. “I still have problems with some words,” Correll said. “But the church members’ mouths dropped wide open when they heard what I have done. They are proud of me. I tell them ‘You need to read your Bible.” Some say they don’t have time. But I like to find out how each Bible story ends. I want to keep going until I can’t anymore. I need to find and put in the back of my mind how God does things.”

“Just recently Chester came into the office with a very heavy backpack,” said Reeves. “He struggled to get it off and pulled out three large bags of coins. We recently had a guest from the Options Pregnancy Resource Center here to speak. Four of our little girls went door to door asking for donations for the center. They collected almost $100. Chester said if they could do it so should he. He brought in four years worth of coins he had collected. Chester lives on a very limited income. He just loves Jesus and does what he feels God wants him to do.” “I would like others to say ‘If that person can do it, so can I,’” Correll exclaimed.

— Photo and article from Northwest Baptist Witness

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