Birthdays and Bibles

This Friday April 3 is a lot of things.
It is Kendal's birthday. It also is Good Friday.  And it also my spiritual birthday, or re-birthday.

Luke 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

The angels party when someone comes to know God.  In my family, we celebrated too, by remembering the date we committed our lives to Christ and accepted His gift of salvation.

For me that was Good Friday, and it all happened because I had access to the Bible.

I was 5 years old.  My pregnant mother (she was 9 months pregnant) and I had walked the quarter mile stretch of dirt road to my Grandad's house.  We lived in the Santa Cruz mountains at the time and the walk was anything but flat.  There were three steep hills between our house and my grandparent's and so the walking was slow and there was a lot of talking.  We spoke of God and what the Bible says.  It was an important day because it was the day that we remembered what Christ had done for us, in giving up His life.  So when I arrived at my grandparents these things were weighing on my mind.

Walking through the front door, the first thing that always caught my eye was this HUGE bible they kept on a little shelf near their couch.  It was displayed in a place of honor and it was about 7 inches thick and too heavy for me to lift.  I remember asking my grandad to tell me some of the things that their big Bible said. To me as a kid, it was a significant book, a book to be respected that told you all kinds of true things, and wonderful things.

(I know this type of decor may be considered corny to some these days, but as a kid it was a visual representation that this book was important, and to be revered.)

I was too young to read it, but I got to look at it, and they would open it for me and read to me from it.

Whatever we discussed that morning, I can not completely recall but I know it weighed heavily on my heart.  Before long my mother and I were walking back home, the sun was up overhead and I barely recall the walk itself because I was asking my mom so many questions.

I asked her, "I need to ask Jesus into my heart right now mom. How do I do it?"
She replied "Well, we would get down on our knees and pray to Him and tell Him that we love Him, and ask forgiveness for our sins, and accept His gift of salvation."

I replied "I want to do it right now."

Below our feet was dirt, and large gravel.  My mom was wearing a skirt, and nine months pregnant, and we were in the middle of descending the final hill on the way to our house.  

"That's wonderful sweetie, let's wait until we're home." she said.
"Mom, it can't wait.. It CAN'T. Right now mom, help me right now I need to have Jesus in my heart right now!" I demanded.

My mom must have seen that there was a lot on my mind, and so right there, on the hill, kneeling in the dirt, and the painful-on-her-knees-gravel, she guided me through a prayer that began my journey with Christ.

I was only five years old.  In telling this story I had to fill in a few details I can't remember.  I can't remember the exact words we spoke, or the exact clothing we wore.  But I remember the image of that Bible.  I remember the words that Bible held and that were spoken to me and that have been written on my heart since then.

The Word of God has power to change lives.

Sometimes we forget, and take for granted the power of God's Word.  I can tell you that before moving to Papua New Guinea, I did. That's before I realized that  there are thousands of people who have no story like mine because they have no Bible in their language at all.  To them, it's a book that exists for someone else.

Until they have their own.  That is when they realize that Christ is for them too.

Imagine hearing this as a child "Jesus loves all the other little children.  All the other children in the world but you.  They all have his songs and books, but He doesn't know your name, and He doesn't speak your language.  How could God love you when He can't even speak your name?"

It's completely untrue, and yet, there are many people who believe that, if they've ever heard of Christ at all to begin with.  "Oh yes, Jesus, I heard of him, he's the savior of some people I know, but He can't save me because He doesn't know how to talk to me."

We've heard sentiments exactly like that.  I was showing the Jesus film in a village in Papua New Guinea.  It showed what Good Friday is, and what Easter is all about.  It showed Christ's suffering and death, and it showed in the language of the people for the first time.

This lady sitting next to me was weeping and said to me in her language "I had heard of this man Jesus before.  But I have never understood until today that He loves me!  He did all of this for me too! Not other people but for me!"  (I had a translator tell me what she said).

It was one of the most moving moments of my life.  
God's Word changes people, it wins them, it communicates His love.

We live in PNG, we do our work, so that more and more people every year, will understand the meaning of Easter and have the desire to celebrate it with us!