Bibles: A Treasured Gift by Diane Thurber, President, Christian Record Services for Blind
When I was six years old, I read an advertisement requesting a $5 donation in exchange for a copy of The Living Bible. I waited months for that package to arrive. When it did, I treasured its content - my very own Bible.
I now own several Bibles and love to read and compare Scripture in multiple versions. I learn so much and draw strength, hope, and encouragement from God's Word.
I was never in an environment where Bibles weren't easily accessible . . . that is, until 2007. I was visiting a village in South Africa where women were trained to care for child-headed households, the destitute, and the terminally ill. They took their ministry roles seriously, though they received no compensation or recognition.
Eventually, our conversation turned to their own dreams and needs. One mother desired shoes and food for her children, and the heartbreaking list went on.
Raina stood quietly listening, her eyes lowered, posture slumped, and frame emaciated. I thought to myself, She must have many needs.
Finally, Raina spoke. She pleaded gently, "I want a Bible, an English Bible. I want to learn from God's Word."
Raina didn't have her own Bible, but she really wanted one. I determined that before I left I must help Raina. I asked one of the missionaries if she had a Bible to share or whether I could pay her to purchase one. She shook her head and explained that this request was not the most pressing need. It was true. They did have many urgent financial needs, such as feeding hundreds of orphans daily. I longed to supply those funds, too. But sensing Raina's hunger for God's Word, her need for spiritual food became my passion.
We traveled to Raina's village several times, but my plan to find a Bible for her was not developing. On the last day of our visit, I knew there was only one option: I would give Raina my Bible. Handwritten notes and underlined passages were sprinkled through my Bible. In the front pages, my wedding date and the names and birthdates of our children were recorded. I hate to admit it, but I struggled with the idea of parting with this Bible. However, I knew I would never forget the look on Raina's face and her plea if I took it back home. I sensed God asking me to share it.
I pulled Raina aside and presented her with my less-than-perfect Bible. The cover was loose, the gilded pages had lost their glimmer, and some page corners were curled - not the pristine Bible I wanted to give. But Raina took my gift and clutched it tightly. I can't forget her toothless smile. It was as though I had given her a lost treasure.
I have often wondered where my Bible traveled, what Raina learned from it, and to whom she may have read from those pages.
Isaiah 55:11 reads, "So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it" (NASB). I believe God had plans for Raina and for my Bible. I'm looking forward to meeting Raina in Heaven and hearing her stories about her journey with the Bible I entrusted to her.
Friend, you can send forth God's Word, too, as you place treasured braille and large-print Bibles in the hands of those who are blind. Lives will be changed.
Please partner with Christian Record to help the blind "see" Jesus now - and when every eye sees Him descend in the clouds. What a wonderful day that will be!