You might remember a year and a half ago, when some generous families from FamilyLife in Little Rock donated an entire box of inexpensive Bibles! Another missionary family brought it in place of their own valuable baggage weight. We can get Bibles here in Kampala, but they're pretty price-prohibitive for the average Joe, or even the average Christian who would like to give out more than one or two at a time. We handed out the contents sparingly and with a whole lotta joy: Many of them went to connections that Oliver had--people who simply couldn't afford one, but would have regular, compassionate contact with someone who loves Jesus; another went to a Muslim friend of ours who wanted to read it while he guarded at night; another to a friend who frequently helps us with computer issues.
But it seems that God had, as He so often does, even bigger ideas. A college friend of ours read that blog post, and had a brainchild of her own. Eva's husband, Harry, is a worship leader at Bridges Community Church in Fremont, CA. The church was replacing all of its NIV pew Bibles with ESV--and, she wanted to know, would we like to have the NIVs?
(This is when you imagine a little eke of excitement popping up out of Kampala, Uganda.)
Eva worked for months to find an affordable shipper, and went so far as to find a donor to cover the costs of shipping, even the rather hefty customs costs on our side. At last, a month ago, we were more than delighted to welcome in a station wagon carrying seven boxes of beautiful, hardcover Bibles in wonderful condition. (It wasn't until after the shipment that I saw a photo of her on Facebook, very pregnant with her fourth child!)
And now, the fun part: hearing the stories and seeing the excitement of people who otherwise wouldn't have their own copy of the Word. A case went to one of eMi's local construction sites, where they are building a community center, health center, HIV/AIDS treatment facilities, and other buildings for Cherish Uganda. The construction foreman wrote,
i hope all is well.,this is the letter the people who received 20 bibles wrote to u.
this is a class of school girl drop outs who are empowered with skills like tailoring,wax candle making,bar and liquid soap manufacture etc.
And here is the thank-you note they included:
Another box made its way down the street to the refugee center where I teach. The students are constantly asking for Bibles, but with 400 students, they have to be pretty persistent to be able to get one. The Easy-to-Read Version is the most usable for them, so this box replaced the teachers' Easy-to-Read copies, which can now go to more students! From what I've read in this excellent book, allowing Muslims to actually read the Word of God is one of the most effective methods of evangelism--so I'm excited that the teachers' copies will be moving into students' hands! Check out the grins on these wonderful people I work with.
I think what excites me are God's promises about the power of His Word--that "it shall succeed in the thing for which [He] sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Discipleship around the world has moments painful and slow--but it also has triumphs. And a real celebration here is that of the Body of Christ, working together in some personally sacrificial ways to love people in a big way. Those of you who help us to be here--this is part of your story, too. So please hear a huge THANK YOU! Pray with us that God will do big things through these lovely black books.