Here in the United States, we have the freedom to read the Holy Bible in our churches and homes. We can carry it anywhere. The government will not stop us. Bibles are in abundance like apple trees. You can purchase them in Christian and secular bookstores. Department stores sell them. Some thrift stores, like the Salvation Army, gives them away. In a 2nd hand shop that is within walking distance from my house and is run by the Methodist church, there’s a free bookshelf filled with Bibles and Christian books. You can take what you want. One time I picked up a Bible and as I was leafing through it I was surprised to see someone had written in ink that it was a gift to their pastor, Jesse Young. I had just moved into my house a few weeks before and this name was becoming familiar to me because Jesse Young had once owned my house. It was in his family for 75 years. I bought this 100+ year old farmhouse from his three adult children at a very reasonable price. Since then, I have spent some time researching Pastor Young and discovered that he was a missionary who traveled to other countries. His wife was the post mistress of our tiny post office. Rev. Jesse Young’s name is still on a small brass plate on my front door, next to a very old chain that, when pulled, it sets off three bells.
Anyway, I digress. Here in America we have such wonderful freedom to read and enjoy the word of God anywhere and anytime we want. I can take my KJV with me when I ride the bus, at the doctor’s office, to a public park, etc. It sometimes starts a conversation with strangers who ask what I am reading, if I’m a Christian and what church do I attend. We have taken it for granted that there’s no shortage of God’s word here.
A few years ago, I was talking with a Christian lady from another country in an online forum. She had come to faith in Christ the previous year and didn’t have access to a Bible. Her village is very small and quite poor. More than anything, she wanted an Amplified Bible because her English wasn’t that good. I told her I would get her one; no problem. Then I found out that the shipping was very expensive and I couldn’t afford it. She was fine with that, but it upset me because every believer should have free access to God’s word. A Christian without a Bible is like trying to fix a car without an instruction manual.
Lately, I have been reading about the time leading up to the Protestant Reformation. How men like Wycliffe and Tyndale risked their lives to get God’s word written in the language of the people. Even under threat of death, they didn’t cower, but persisted in their work in obedience to God. What a reward these brave men will one day receive in Heaven.
This leads me to wonder what about us Christians today? Will we exhibit the same kind of courage if we were arrested and sentence to death for being a Christian? Or more likely to deny Jesus and renounce our faith and work? Will torture or the threat of it, cause us to give up on God just so that we can live? The day may come when we the minority will be persecuted. What will you do? Will you make the decision to stand for Christ in the face of death? I can only hope and pray that God will give me the courage to say like Stephen, the first in the New Testament scriptures to die for Christ: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)
Or like the apostle Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)
Or Adoniram Judson, an American Baptist missionary and Bible translator to Burma: “I go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school. I feel so strong in Christ.”