Sharing the Bible. A book most traveled, most translated -- and still timely [BY]By Curtis J. Sitomer, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Bible -- the world's most translated book -- continues to bring healing, regeneration, comfort, and inspiration to the earth's remotest borders. A flow of reports from around the globe to those who distribute the Scriptures -- foremost among them, the American Bible Society (ABS) in the United States and the United Bible Societies (UBS) abroad -- indicate this type of impact.Skip to next paragraph
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A woman believed to be living in an East-bloc country (her name and residence are withheld) was jailed by authorities on suspicion of being a spy. She asked a fellow prisoner -- who has access to the ``outside'' -- to get her a Bible and a hymn book. ``I opened the Bible without looking for a particular passage,'' she wrote to friends. ``It fell upon the book of Acts and I read from the 16th chapter about how Paul and Silas praised the Lord in their prison.'' She shared her thoughts with cellmates -- and they sang hymns and read the Bible together for several days.
``Suddenly, the comfort which we received from the Bible made it much lighter in our cell,'' she said. ``Sometimes before I fell asleep I would think about what happened in prison when Paul and Silas were singing hymns to God in their cell -- and other prisoners were listening to them.''
This woman was soon released. She thought about taking the Bible with her. But she decided to leave it so others ``would have the comfort from God's Word.''
A man from Thailand said he was ``addicted'' to card playing since the age of 13. He later became a compulsive gambler. His wife left him. And his life was shattered. He contemplated suicide. Then a friend gave him what is known as a Gospel ``portion.'' ``When I read in Matthew 11:28 the invitation to the burdened and weary, I knew it was for me,'' he said. ``Christ not only saved me but he delivered me from the burdens of gambling, drink, and smoking.'' This man now serves in a small church in Nongki, Thailand.
Gaylord Kambarami, a UBS Bible society worker, was driving to his home in Zimbabwe. The back of his car was filled with Scriptures to share with townspeople. Mr. Kambarami was stopped by a military roadblock and accused of carrying weapons. When his trunk was opened, an interrogator repeated the charges. Confused, the missionary insisted that all he had were Bibles. The soldier smiled. ``That's what I am talking about, brother,'' he said. ``Don't you realize that is ammunition!'' Mr. Kambarami says he remembered that the Bible says a knowledge of the Lord is ``better than the weapons of war.'' He was allowed to continue on his way.
A church in a poor section of Atlanta reports that ABS-supplied Bibles are allowing its young adult members to study the New Testament and giving them a ``growing excitement about God.'' One youthful woman, unable to read or write, began to participate in a scriptural study group as she gained confidence and inspiration from listening to Bible cassettes. A man with failing eyesight -- who also had a long history of criminal activities -- was given a large-print Bible. ``Now he is accepting the truths of the Word and God's promise in it for him,'' a church official reports.
A sheriff's deputy who, on his own time, conducts Bible classes for inmates in a California jail, says he gets 40 to 50 volunteers for each class -- and several usually say they will devote their lives to God. There is a growing demand for the Scriptures, he adds, including Spanish translations.
Million Belete, regional secretary for the United Bible Societies for Africa, recently helped provide food and water to famine victims in Ethiopia (his native land). ``Their hunger and thirst is indescribable,'' he said.
But he added that in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, he saw another kind of hunger -- manifested in the people flocking to churches to hear the Word. Many churches in this area now hold several services on Sundays to cope with overflow crowds. ``Africa is hungry for both temporal and eternal bread and is grateful to those who are sharing it,'' Mr. Belete told his UBS colleagues.
This hungering and thirsting after ``eternal bread'' has translated into a quest for the Scriptures in almost all parts of the globe -- particularly in Africa.