One of my favourite stories about the power of the Bible came from a missionary in Africa. Several years ago, he was handing out free New Testaments at a large outdoor evangelistic meeting when he came across a young transient.
The boy was obviously poor and had been hanging around the religious service to see if he could get a hand-out. When the missionary greeted the young man, he asked him if he would like a New Testament to read.
“No,” he responded, “I really have no interest in reading your Bible.”
“This book has the answers to life’s biggest questions – it could give you a new start on life.”
“Sir, if you give me this book,” he was now thumbing through the thin, white paper, ‘Til just end up ripping out these pages and using them to make cigarettes.”
“I tell you what,” the missionary countered. “You go ahead and use the Bible for cigarette wrappers. That’s okay, as long as you do one thing for me.”
“You must read each page before you smoke it.”
“You have a deal. I’ll do it.”
Years later, the aging missionary was back in the same area, where he was to be the honoured guest at a large Christian rally where a 40-something evangelist was preaching.
After the service, the speaker approached the older man and asked, “Do you remember me?”
“No, I can’t say that I do.”
“About 20 years ago, you were the preacher at a meeting near here and you saw me hanging around outside begging. When you offered me a free Bible, I said I’d take it, if you let me use its pages as cigarette paper.”
“I do remember you. I asked you to read each page before you smoked it. I can hardly believe you’re the same person, What happened?”
Well I did what you said, reading each page of the New Testament before I rolled it into a cigarette. I smoked my way all through Matthew. I smoked all of Mark. I smoked the entire book of Luke. Then,,I was smoking through John’s gospel and I got to John 3:16 and read, ‘So God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him would have everlasting life.’ I began to cry when I realized how much God’ loves me and I knelt down right where I was and asked God to forgive me and come into my life.
As you promised, everything began to change from that point on.”
As a father and pastor I’ve; committed myself to the priority of reading, understanding, practising and teaching the Bible. That’s why I’ve written the book just released this month, called The Red Thread. This book, which is being published in three volumes, is a 52-chapter over view of the Bible with present-day application.
We’re beginning this week, as a church, to use The Red Thread as a weekly study, Join us – it could very well change your life,
Originally published in the Tri-City News newspaper in Barry Buzza’s “Pastor’s Perspective” column.
For a listing of Pastor Barry’s books visit Over The Wall Ministries.