This afternoon I came upon this video, posted by one of my friends on Facebook. It’s a bit blurry but it shows clear enough the deep joy and emotion felt by these Chinese Christians as they laid their hands on a real bible for the first time. It reminded me of something similar in the Ukraine, when I visited that country years ago on a missions trip with my church.
As we, Dutch, don’t speak Ukrainian at all we all got our own interpreter – an English speaking member of the church we visited there. My interpreter was a young man named Michael. He was a soldier on leave, lived with his mother and brother in a two room apartment and traveled every day for two hours by bus to get to the church to help us out.
One day, during a short lunch break, he told me he had never owned a Bible. He desperately wanted one but they were far too expensive to buy – even second hand Bibles were out of his reach. But about two years ago he filled in a form he found at his church, from an American organization giving away Ukrainian Bibles. He send it to the address but never heard of it anymore. I really felt for him and decided to try to find a Bible for him.
But I needn’t. God has His own way to make things happen :)
That Saturday we had the afternoon off to prepare for the Sunday service. Michael went home to spend time with his family. That night, when we met again he was beaming! He waved wildly with a book and shouted, “Miss Riete, look! LOOK!!” It was a Bible … in Ukrainian.
Between laughter and tears he told me that when he came home that afternoon his mother told him a package had arrived by mail. It had American stamps on it. I it was a brand new Bible and a short note, telling him his form had arrived and they were glad to send this to him. He couldn’t believe his eyes …
The next morning in church Michael sat next to me, looking pale and with red eyes. He showed me his new Bible again, full of exclamation marks and parts underlined. He had been reading his Bible all night. “I couldn’t stop,” he told me, “It’s the first time I can read it all myself. Have you seen this …. and this … and this?”
It was my first time to see someone so happy and excited about a Bible. In our part of the world having a Bible is no problem at all. We can buy one in every bookstore and most of them are very affordable. But this young man had craved a Bible. And waited for years to get one.
I decided to never take my Bible for granted. But that decision slowly faded away over the years … I hardly ever thought about this young man anymore. Until this video showed up.
I have to start to be more grateful for my Bible again.