Atlanta, Feb. 19--Bruce Wilkinson, the Atlanta author catapulted to international best-sellerdom by "The Prayer of Jabez," is leaving Walk Thru the Bible, the ministry he founded 25 years ago to teach laymen the Scriptures. He will be moving from Atlanta to California later this year "to pursue a broader mission through the medium of television and film," according to a statement released Friday by the board of Walk Thru the Bible.

"Walk Thru the Bible will continue its bountiful history of innovative Bible teaching, and I will remain close to the board and staff as we develop Bible teaching resources in the future," Wilkinson said in a written statement. He is in Nashville attending the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, where he is expected to make an announcement about future projects.

Walk Thru the Bible claims to be the world's largest Bible teaching seminar organization. The nondenominational ministry was host to more than 2,500 seminars last year in the United States, helping the people in the pews memorize the structure of the Bible through word association and gestures. Its international division reaches more than 50 countries. The ministry also produces books, devotional publications and magazines.

Wilkinson, 54, was well-known around some circles for his seminars and books when he wrote "The Prayer of Jabez," a small volume based on a one-sentence prayer by an Israelite man who made a cameo appearance in 1 Chronicles 4:10. Huge sales more than 8.3 million last year began with what Wilkinson calls "ja-buzz," word-of-mouth chatter.

Wilkinson says he had been praying the prayer himself for 30 years and finally wrote the book at the urging of friends. It was published in April 2000. "Jabez" was the first book in "The Breakthrough Series" Wilkinson is producing with Multnomah Publishers. "Secrets of the Vine," released in April 2001, followed, outpacing "Jabez" in sales. Jabez's prayer is now on everything from plaques to T-shirts, and special versions of the book have been released for women, teens and children.

Walk Thru the Bible also is prospering. "We wish Bruce the best in his new venture," said Paul Johnson, chairman of the organization. "We will enjoy a continuing affiliation with Bruce, as he continues to produce high-quality Bible-teaching materials. In addition to these materials, we have strong, able leaders at the organizational level, and we excitedly await what the future holds."

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