“Please, we need these Bibles! The people are hungry for the Word!” The men, brothers, who approached me may be the two bravest souls I have ever met. They begged—no, pleaded—for Bibles. Their voices strained to be heard above the roar of the crowd that had gathered looking for a few more Bibles to take back to their communities in eastern India.
The younger brother reached out for my hand. I looked him in the eyes and could see the desire of the people he served captured there. His face was wrinkled from the weights of leadership and exhaustion, but his piercing black eyes told a story of pain and perseverance. I stopped to listen as he told me the story of their ministry and their father.
Their Father’s Story
The brothers were born in the Indian state of Orissa. Though they grew up practicing Hinduism, their father became a Christian when they were both very young and taught them to lead Christian lives. He was a strong man and a leader in the community, but when he became a Christian he lost the respect of his peers. Soon, the family was constantly under threat for their faith.
Still, their father worked to spread the Good News throughout the community. His ministry grew amid severe persecution as he brought the message of Jesus Christ to some of the most extreme anti-Christian areas of India. Despite reports of attacks on individuals and the burning of churches, he continued to preach the Word of God.
One evening, after leading a local Bible study, the man was attacked by a group of local religious leaders, angry that he was preaching about Christ in their community. They gathered all of the Bibles he had brought into a pile in the center of the village. They lit the Bibles on fire, beat the pastor until he could no longer stand and threw his unconscious body onto the fire. He never woke up.
The pastor’s two sons were pleading for Bibles so they could continue his ministry. They recognized the community's need for Jesus Christ and set out to spread His love. Even after losing their father to extreme persecution, they did not lose their faith or their passion.
As I listened, I was filled with sorrow and deep regret. It was clear that through their father’s death their commitment lives on, but I couldn't give them enough Bibles! They were willing to risk their lives for the Lord, but they needed the Scriptures to help their people meet Jesus. That was the desire I could see so clearly in their eyes.
The number of believers is exploding throughout the world. New Christians are on fire for the Lord and are spreading His love to their friends, their families, and their communities. Yet these people do not have Bibles. Sometimes there are no Bibles in their own language. In many places the Bibles that are available are written at a level they cannot understand. Or simply there are not enough copies for everyone that needs one.
How will we respond? What is our part in this story?
Will you pray with me that God will continue to strengthen the men and women living amidst persecution as they follow Paul’s call in 1 Corinthians 16 (ERV) to “Hold firmly to your faith. Have courage and be strong”? Let us also pray that He will provide a road to the end of Bible Famine. Christians are spiritually famished without access to the Bible. We can be a part of a new story with them.
In Christ Jesus,
Bible League International