Thursday, October 30, 2014
“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.” ― Abraham Lincoln
I have given away thousands of Bibles in the years since the year 2000. Prior to that, I bought Bibles for myself and collected many different translations. However, in the year 2000, I went on a mission trip to Iquitos, Peru, in the middle of the Amazon (and its heat) to teach pastors (through an interpreter) about the Bible and how to use it. I only had one with me that was in English, and even though every single pastor of the thirty I was teaching spoke only Spanish, I gave my English Bible to one of them. He cried at the gift. When I returned to the U.S., I looked for ways to buy Bibles in Spanish and discovered that my church would pay for them. I bought 300 Spanish Bibles although they were paperbacks which is not the best for the Amazon with its high humidity and equatorial rains. A friend who worked for a company that made plastic bags got me 500 sealable bags (the kind with the little zipper on top), so I could put the Spanish Bibles in the bags to protect them from the rain and humidity. The church wouldn’t pay for me to go back to Peru, so I took vacation time and paid my own way to return to the Amazon. I took my 19-year-old son, Keith, with me, and off we flew. We missed our plane in Dallas but they rerouted us through Miami and we flew first class that far. Then from Miami to Lima, Peru, eighteen hours in the Lima airport until the Peruvian airline could fly us over the Andes and into Iquitos. I hired a boat and driver, and for the next five days, my son and I went up and down the Amazon river and its tributaries giving Spanish Bibles to the Indians who were Christians. When they had a Bible in their language in their hands, it was like they had won the lottery. They were so happy and grateful. I went back on one more church-sponsored mission trip to build a church in the jungle there in 2001, and once again handed out almost 300 Spanish Bibles in their plastic bag protection. Almost nothing made me feel as good as putting those Bibles into grateful hands. When we moved here to Africa, I continued to buy Bibles, this time written in Swahili, and gave away almost 500 in the first year. Some friends had given me about 500 Bibles in English and those were well received as well since many here can speak English, but it was the Swahili Bibles that were the biggest hit. I carried them in my car and gave them to the police at the check points on the highway (well, road—no highways around here). The only problem is that they cost $11.00 for each one, so it was impossible to get as many as we needed. We gave twenty to the Coptic Church in Musoma (the people who operate the hospital there) and they haven’t allowed us to pay for medical services or prescriptions since. We have made sure that every one of our Methodist churches has at least twenty Swahili Bibles and give more to those who want to have Bible Studies—hard to study the Bible if you don’t have one. One of our pastors lost his life running back into his burning home to save the Swahili Bibles he kept there. He had saved his wife and children but went back for the Bibles which he did save by covering them with his body. You can see from the picture at the right how happy the pastors are to get these Bibles. We’ve probably given away about 1,000 of them here, but we need at least 2,000 more. At the price we have to pay, that’s about $22,000, so we won’t be meeting that goal anytime soon. Still, if you can afford to send ten dollars to the One Book Foundation in Fayetteville, Arkansas, another ten to fifteen people will get to read God’s word in their own language. Each Bible reaches at least ten people or more as they are read in the homes to families and friends. If giving away these Bibles is all that we have done, it is enough—but not enough if you know what I mean. Putting the words of our Lord in the language of the people is a gift that is without equal. Few things make the people as happy as getting to read about Christ in their own language in their own homes. In the U.S. many families have multiple Bibles that are never read. Not so here. Thank God for everyone who has helped me to put Bibles into the hands of believers. I will always be grateful and thankful to those who have helped spread the Word in this way.