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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February 2005, 11:07 GMT
GodPods, holy golf balls and JCUK
Most people have heard of an iPod, but what about a GodPod?

It is a solar-powered speaking Bible which fits neatly into the pocket, is multi-lingual and designed to help people who have reading difficulties.

This ecclesiastical marvel is one of the products up for an award during a church exhibition in Belfast this week.

The GodPod will help people who have sight problems
The GodPod will help people who have sight problems
Other items vying for the "My Church Needs One of Those" award are "holy" golf balls and t-shirts with the JCUK (Jesus Christ United King) logo.

A Bible which bursts into flames at the touch of a button will also be on show during the Christian Resources Exhibition at the King's Hall.

Brad Turkington, from the company which distributes the GodPod, said nearly half the world's population was unable to read, and about 42 million were blind.

The idea is that churches will buy the GodPod in bulk and then distribute them.

"For most of these people, the only way to communicate is by the spoken word," said the Magherafelt man.

"We want to help them hear. You can get the whole Bible on this, in any language.

"It can be solar powered for the Third world, because a third of the world cannot read. How do you get a Bible to them? If you get a cassette to them they either tape over it or they don't have any electricity.

"With it being solar powered, it means they can use it for up to 6,000 hours."

He said the company had just produced the complete New Testament, which is being launched at the exhibition.

"We have been very successful in Arabic countries, where some mission organisations have been able to get it into Libya and into Egypt," said Mr Turkington.

We like to think we have the full A to Z of everything that church leaders would need in their churches
Brett Pitchfork
Event director

The competition will be judged on the first day of the three-day conference. Finalists will have three minutes to pitch their product to the judges - a four-strong panel of clergy.

Organisers say the exhibition, which features 150 exhibitors, is about making a traditional message accessible to a new generation.

Event director Brett Pitchfork said: "We like to think we have the full A to Z of everything that church leaders would need in their churches.

"This competition gives visitors a chance to see some of the more intriguing new products."

Seminars are also taking place including a demonstration of belleplates, an "affordable" alternative to handbells.

JCUK t-shirts are also featuring at the King's Hall event
JCUK t-shirts are also featuring at the King's Hall event

Engineer Maurice Davis, who created the belleplates, said he invented them "during a moment of divine inspiration".

"Musical wallpaper scrapers, is how my wife describes them," he laughed.

"They are lightweight and also much more affordable. Because they are not made of bronze but made of aluminium they are much lower in cost, easier to produce.

"We have them in use with schools, churches and youth groups, all the way through to people in sheltered accommodation and nursing homes."

The exhibition also features sound systems, Bible software, organs, chairs, vestments and books.

Delegates can also find out about how to spread the gospel to children through puppetry.

The exhibition runs from 1200 GMT on Wednesday until Friday.

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