September 12, 2008

A book worth Reading

This summer I reread a book titled “Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler.” I can’t explain just how much it has impacted me. In order to do that, I’d also have to give a synopsis of the book and tell why and how each part has impacted me. How I longed to hear Baas’ playing. My fascination and jealousy of Andrew’s monkey. The miracles I rejoiced in reading about. The example of Mr. and Mrs. Hoppy. My desire to go to a school like the WEC and be pushed to be a real Christian. Knowing that Andrew was a real average person, yet is being used by God, and God is constantly proving Himself to Andrew and providing for him.

In short, the story is about a man named Andrew who grew up during WWII, had a desire for adventure, found God through scripture, let God radically change his life and, ended up being a traveling missionary to Communist countries.

The three biggest thoughts that linger are: 1. My desire to live my life in a way that God has an opportunity to do big miracles. 2. Thoughts about living more simply, and what if we ever had to flee from persecution. 3. How much I take my Bible for granted, and am so glad and honored that I am able to read my own Bible as often as I desire.

To give an example of this last thought, and to share a piece of the book, here is a quote.

“Our last Sunday in Russia we attended a Baptist church in a Ukrainian village not far from the Hungarian boarder. The singing was stirring, the prayers fervent. But when it came time for the sermon, the pastor did a strange thing. He walked off the platform, borrowed a book from one of the congregation, and took it back to the pulpit. It was the Bible! We had heard that there were ministers in Russia who did not have Bibles of their own. But this was the first time we had seen it with our own eyes.

“After the service the pastor invited us to join him and his elders in his study for a brief visit. The visit began, as it so often did in Russia, with an attack. We had learned that this was a safety device, since all pastors knew that their actions were observed. …

“At any rate, we got to talking about the Second Coming of Christ- by far the most popular theological topic in Russia- and the tone of our conversation immediately changed. I drew out my own Dutch Bible out of my pocket to follow the references he was making and when he was through, laid it on the desk.

“I noticed almost at once that he had lost interest in the conversation. His mind was taken up with the Bible! He picked it up and weighed it in his hand, unzipped it, started at the Dutch words he could not read, zipped it up again.

“Then he put it back on the desk. Not as I had put it down, but with great percission. He set it down on the corner and slowly ran his finger along the edge so that it was aligned with the desk. And then-his voice distant, talking more to himself than to us- he said, “You know, Brother, I have no Bible.”

“My heart broke. Here was this important man, the spiritual leader of a thousand souls, who did not own a copy of the Bible.

“All of the ones we had brought with us were gone-and then I remembered. The little Ukrainian picket Bible! ‘Wait!’ I shouted. I jumped up from my chair. The Bible societies would just have to take my word for it [that large Russian bibles etc could be printed in full in pocket size]. I raced outside to my car, threw open the door, got the little bible from under the seat, and ran back to the study.

“‘Here.’ I shoved the Bible into the pastor’s hand. ‘This is for you. To keep.’

“The translator repeated the words, but still the pastor did not understand.

“‘Whose is it?’ he said.

“‘It’s Your! To Keep, to own.’

“When Hans and I left that day, our chests ached from the embraces of that group of elders. For now their pastor had a Bible of his very own. A Bible he did not have to return at the end of the service. A Bible to pick up whenever he wanted. A Bible to read and to love.”

Oh, how often do I neglect my own copy of God’s word because it is so common to me? What a privilege it is to have it!

In Christ,


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