Not long ago, I was able to take part in a time of spiritual refreshment and fellowship with the many people who bless us with the gift of their time. In Michigan and Iowa, I spent time with hundreds of Volunteers who donate countless hours to ensure people all around the world can engage with God’s Word.
It was a blessing to hear inspiring speakers, participate in praise and worship, and celebrate our Volunteers. One woman I met shared with me the incredible story of a Dutch sailor who arrived in New York in the 1940s. His ship was diverted because Germany was occupying the Netherlands at that time, and they ceased all port travel, so his ship could not sail home. While this sailor was in New York, he met a man who shared a vision of placing a Bible in every home in America.
The sailor thought this was a great idea and wanted to know how he could help. He volunteered to help make this man’s vision a reality by purchasing Bibles, and helping this new ministry start placing Bibles in every home in New Jersey. The man with the vision was Bill Chapman, and the ministry he envisioned became Bible League International.
Throughout the year, we’ve been celebrating 80 years of ministry. We have taken the time to remember that this ministry began with a man with a vision from God, and the vision was carried out by men and women who took no pay to help make the vision God gave Mr. Chapman happen. They gave the gift of their time.
As we prepare to embark upon a new season of holiday giving, I invite you to take a moment to reflect upon the epistle of James, which reminds us:
Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. (James 1:17 ERV)
It is when we are giving that we are most like God. Giving does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor. No matter who or where you are in life, you can find opportunities to bless others, no matter how much or how little you have. In Madagascar, a 52-year-old pastor was thrown in jail after accusations were made against him. His church members raised the money that would have secured his release from jail. But he said no. He remained in jail, so the church members could keep the money he knew they could not spare.
In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus tells of the poor widow who put two small copper coins into the Temple collection box. He emphasized that the widow “gave all she had to live on.” That means her giving cost her something. It might have cost her everything. Jesus thought so much of her gift that He honored what she gave above those who could have given so much more. Through the story of the widow’s gift of two small coins, Jesus also challenges us ask ourselves, “What kind of givers will we be?”
Today, we serve under-resourced churches in 47 countries by providing Bibles and training to transform lives through the Word of God. It is my great honor to lead this ministry into another year, a ministry started by a family who gave all they had to the vision of placing a Bible in every home. We’re still pressing forward in this vision. We’re still blessed with the diligent efforts of Volunteers who freely give of their time and their talents to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we’re still going to ask ourselves how we can be of service to others the way the sailor in New York was of service to our founder, Bill Chapman. I encourage you to do the same this holiday season.