Pastor Rob Spencer from Church Downtown shares his heart today.
As a pastor, I’m no stranger to the Bible (I’m sure those are comforting words to hear for the people in my church).
The Bible is not only what I look to every week to provide hope, encouragement, and direction for the people God has placed in my care, but it is my personal guide, refuge, and sustenance in this life. What I love about the Bible is that no matter who you are, what your social status may be, or what the current issue is that you are dealing with, the Bible contains the answer.
In fact, I love the Bible so much I have at least ten Bibles on my bookshelf… different versions, different colors, some leather, some hardback, some paperback, some still in the plastic wrap. However, I really don’t use any of those Bibles (and no, I’m not making some guilt-ridden confession), because I have fallen in love with my Bible app for my iPhone. Now I can take any version of the Bible with me wherever I go! What a wonderful blessing it is to have unfettered access to God’s Holy Word! I cannot imagine living without this precious book in my life! And now, here comes a confession… I have never really given much thought to those living without access to God’s Word.
I had the honor of participating in a mission excursion to Ethiopia through Project HOPEFUL Awassa and the leadership of Greg and Charisa Knight. We did many great things on this trip and I was made aware of many needs, but to be honest, I was not really caught off guard by most of what I saw; when you go to an impoverished country to visit an orphanage, you expect and prepare yourself to see poverty, poor living conditions, and orphaned children (not to say those things aren’t heart-breaking, just that they weren’t a surprise).
But here is what caught me by surprise… our team gathered in a room with several families to deliver care packages to the children who are being sponsored through the “Families In the Gap” sponsorship program. Prior to handing out the care packages Greg asked me (since I’m the pastor) if I’d like to hand out a Bible to each of the families. I agreed and picked up a Bible as they called out the name of the first family to receive their Bible – what came next I was not prepared for… As I smiled and handed a Bible to a mother and her son, she grabbed my neck, pulled me close, and began weeping. I hugged her and thought to myself, “Sweet lady, she must be a very emotional person!
Well then the next mother and child came, and once again getting a Bible resulted in hugs and tears. Then I realized as the woman walked away clutching her new Bible, in her language, that she was not going to leave that Bible in its plastic wrapping, she was not going to go home and put it on a bookshelf to add to her collection… she had received a gift for her family that would change the quality of their relationship with God.
As I was processing this thought, the next mother and child came to receive their Bible and she grabbed my neck and, holding my head against her shoulder, began kissing my neck and weeping… well, this was too much emotion for one man to bear.
As tears welled up in my eyes and that weird awkward cryball swelled up in my throat, I was smacked in the face with the power of God’s Word. We can give care packages, money, cows, food, and clothing, but these things are temporal – the Word of God is eternal. The Gospel message brings life. I’m reminded of the verse, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:11 (NLT)).
Praise God for allowing us to be a part of what He is doing and because of someone’s generous Bible donations God is accomplishing His great work in the hearts of men and women in Ethiopia!
Go here https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=ACB8F86A0C2A4B9 you would like to donate for Bibles (they average about $6 each) and give an eternal gift of God’s word.
Thank you to Laurie Stella for the wonderful pictures!