Throughout the years, Christians have often been referred to as the people of the Book. Perhaps nobody in recent memory has taken that moniker quite as literally as SBCC’s Betty Sullins.
At the end of September, Betty retired from her role as director of the church library, a post she held for 9 years. When she first started, in 2005, the “library was not well organized. Books were everywhere,” she says. “There were books here and there, shoved in every space, not in any kind of order.” Not surprisingly, Betty made reorganizing the library a top priority. Today, the church library is home to over 5,400 books, all properly arranged according to the Dewey decimal system.
After the merge, in 2008, the library began to get more traffic, which thrilled Betty. “It was great to see it get more use. I had worked for 3 years to set it up for more people and then the Lord provided,” she says. “The people of Community Church have been fantastic with the library,” according to Betty. “The only problem, sometimes, is returning things on time,” she says with a laugh.
For Betty, though, the treasure of the library was not something to be limited to the citizens of Santa Barbara, nor even to the shores of America. In 2010, Betty struck upon an idea for what to do with the extra books that the library didn’t have room for, an idea that allowed her to combine her love for books with her love for missions. Today, Betty oversees efforts to send 100-lb boxes of books to the Philippines, which often go directly to SBCC missionaries like the Varbergs or Mary Larsen. In the driveway of Betty’s modest home sits a custom-builtshed where she packs books—many of them Bibles—into Trader Joe’s bags and then places the stuffed bags into boxes destined for Manila. “The missionaries are absolutely thrilled to receive the books,” Betty says. In 2013, Betty shipped 29 boxes of books; so far in 2014, she has been able to send off another 44 boxes. “It is such a great feeling to send off another box of books!” she says.
Betty’s retirement from the SBCC library was motivated, in part, by her desire to devote more attention to Mission Nannys, the missions agency she founded in 1991. Mission Nannys receives applications from missionary families with children and then matches them with women who are seeking to be involved in missions in the non-traditional way of caring for the children of those serving overseas. “It really is a wonderful ministry,” Betty says. And she would know first-hand, having served four different stints as a Mission Nanny herself (92, Italy; 93, Taiwan; 96 & 98, Japan). Mission Nannys has recently enjoyed unprecedented growth. In the first 10 years of the organization, Betty placed 22 Mission Nannys. Since 2001, thanks in part to a website and strategic advertising efforts, Betty has been able to match up another 209 Nannys with families around the globe. And there are few signs of a slow down. “I have received an application each of the first 7 days in October.,” Betty says, with a grin and a shake of her head.
In the wake of Betty’s retirement, Vera Breedlove has taken up the role of director of the library. SBCC’s library—located to the right of the Sanctuary—features a wide range of books dealing with various topics. Whether you are looking for theology, fiction, children’s books, or wisdom on living the Christian life, the library is stocked with books waiting to be discovered. The library is open on Sundays before and after each of the morning services and is always seeking more volunteers who would be willing to help others make the most of the great collection of resources. If you would be interested in helping in the library, please contact Vera (information on page 5) Additionally, Betty is always looking for more paper grocery bags with handles to send to the Philippines.
Though books in general have played a central role in Betty’s life, her truest devotion is to the Good Book, to the message of the gospel, and its spread throughout the world. We have been blessed by her heart of service, evangelism, and warmth and are so grateful for her years of faithfulness to our church family and our missionaries. If you see Betty around, be sure to thank her for her service to the body. And, then, in her honor, go to the library and check out a book (and be sure to return it on time!).