Some people believe reading the Bible from cover to cover is an achievement. If so, then Jimmie Coggin is an over-achiever.
Coggin, 86, a Sanford resident, has read the Bible through each year since 1975. On Jan. 1, he embarked on his 47th reading of the Word of God.
“I wanted to read from Genesis 1 to the last word of Revelation,” Coggin said Tuesday.
Coggin grew up in Grace Chapel Church, where his parents were members. Throughout the years, he served the church as a Sunday school teacher, Sunday school superintendent and a deacon, he said. He began reading the Bible in 1975, but was having difficulty making his way through the Old Testament.
“I attempted to read it several times and I would get bogged down in Deuteronomy and some of the Old Testament, I and II Chronicles,” Coggin said.
But in March of that year, he was hospitalized with double pneumonia for 33 days. That gave him time to get through the Old Testament books and Coggin said he finished it. Each year since, on Jan. 1, he begins with the first verse of the Book of Genesis and on Dec. 31 ends with the last word of Revelation, he said.
“I think it’s a good habit,” Coggin said. “I had it on cassette tape and CDs and now I have an app.”
Coggin tries to read the New Testament twice a year, but tackles the Old Testament just once.
“I like Psalms and Proverbs, and Hebrews is my favorite in the New Testament, especially Chapter 13,” he said.
That chapter includes lessons on Christian behavior.
In 1983, Coggin joined Gideons International, a faith-based organization of business and professional men and women who spread the God’s Word throughout the world. The Gideons are best known for handing out pocket-size New Testament Bibles.
Coggin traveled across the country and went to Puerto Rico, standing on sidewalks and street corners and handing out the readings in what is known as a Bible blitz. He recalled one incident in New York City, when he handed a Bible to a man.
“He turned around and said, ‘My life’s a mess and I need God,’ ” Coggin said. “I asked him what his name was and he said Peter.”
Coggin said he then signed the Bible, also writing a variation of John 3:16, “God so loved Peter, that he gave his only begotten son for him.”
Coggin said doesn’t get bored reading the Bible each year. Each time, he finds something he missed in his earlier readings, he said.
“There’s always something that jumps out at you,” he said.
Coggin’s Bible is his most precious treasure, behind only his wife, Peggy, according to Ramona Willett, one of the couple’s three children.
“When he would share a Bible with people, he told them it was a GPS. It tells you where you’re at, where you’re going and how to get there,” Willett said.
GPS, in this case, is God’s Plan of Salvation, she added. When Coggin is buried, Willett said, it will be with his Bible.
“I’m ready,” Coggin said with a smile on his face.
“He’s set a good example and good footprints for us to follow,” Willett said.