News Articles

PERSON Stirring memories remain of receiving first Bible

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Do you remember the first Bible you ever received? I do.
It was on Dec. 25, 1960, when I was only 5 years old, so my remembrance of receiving it is fuzzy. My parents gave me a white Bible with a cross hanging from the zipper on the side. As I look back some 35 years now, I must say that was the best Christmas gift I ever remember receiving. I took it to church with me, kept it by my bed and read it often.
It wasn’t until 12 years later that God’s Word penetrated my heart with my need to accept Jesus as Savior. The words found in Isaiah 55:11 are so true: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I have acquired numerous Bibles since that Christmas, but none means more to me than the first. That Bible, though worn and frayed, serves as benchmark of the first time I ever remember being exposed to God’s Word.
And I give thanks to God that here in America his Word is readily available. But we have people in our nation, and even in our state, who have never received a Bible. This is often true in the case of cross- cultural missions work — no one has ever given them the opportunity to read God’s Word in their own language.
Several months ago, a pastor requested assistance in understanding how his church could minister to Hispanics who had moved into his community. I joined him as he visited several families in their homes, asking them about their work, their families and their needs. For many, it was the first time anyone had visited them and expressed a personal interest.
I will never forget an unplanned visit we had with a lady named Sarah on a dirt road.
We introduced ourselves and explained we were from the Baptist church in town. We learned she had a Roman Catholic background but didn’t attend church anywhere. The pastor invited Sarah to visit his church with her family.
At one point in the conversation I asked Sarah if she had a Bible. When she said no, I asked if she would like to have one.
“Yes sir,” she responded in Spanish, “but I don’t understand English.”
“Sarah, the Bible I have for you is in Spanish,” I replied. “I will go to the car and get it for you.” I will never forget the look on her face or the words that came from her mouth when I handed her a Spanish Bible.
First she asked how much she owed me. I replied, “Sarah, you don’t owe me anything. We receive God’s Word freely and we share it freely.”
With tears running down her cheeks, she said, “Sir, I am 30 years old and have never had my own Bible.” She accepted that paperback Bible as if it were made of gold.
Immediately, my mind raced back to the day when I received my first Bible. May we never take it for granted that everyone has had this opportunity.
I haven’t heard from Sarah since that day, but there is peace knowing that the seed has been planted and that God’s Word will not return to him void.

    About the Author

  • Tim Hill