Though I don’t remember the exact year (somewhere around the early 1990’s), I do remember my first missions trip. It was to the beautiful country of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, but Communism had just fallen and the Soviet Union was dissolving. It was prime time for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to infiltrate the land, since prior to that, it wasn’t allowed.
I was asked to go with a small group of pastors as we would meet local pastors from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Serbia. Over 400 pastors and church leaders came from all over. It being my first mission trip, I was totally amazed. It was exhilarating being someplace that was so thirsty and dry to hear the Good News of salvation offered by Jesus.
Though there were weight limits on our luggage (nothing like today), we brought as many Russian Bibles as we could to hand out to our new fellow pastors. We learned that it cost almost one year’s wages to purchase a Bible, so many of the local pastors didn’t even have a Bible. For many of them, if they did get their hands on a Bible, they immediately start memorizing as much as they could. I remember thinking how strange all of that sounded, since I had like 5 Bibles on my shelf at home. I never had a lack of Bibles. Actually, as a pastor, I always had an abundance of Bibles. Still do!
One day we had the great opportunity to present to our fellow pastors the Bibles we brought with. There was no way we had enough Bibles for all 400+, but those that got them eagerly shared. They would sit down in groups of 10-12 and the one with the Bible would start reading. When he was done with both sides of the page, he tore it out and handed it to the person sitting next to him. That’s right, he ripped the page right out of the book. Pastors might not have a whole Bible, but that one page gave them tremendous hope.
I tell you all of that because I think of that often when I read Mark 16:17-18. Here’s what it says…
“Everyone who believes Me will be able to do wonderful things. By using My name they will force out demons, and they will speak new languages. They will handle snakes and will drink poison and not be hurt. They will also heal sick people by placing their hands on them.” CEV
What if that was the only page of the Bible you had? If so, might might you believe about Jesus?
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Read your Bible with new eyes. Don’t read it like you’ve read it before. Read it like you’ve never seen it and let it’s freshness rejuvenate you.
Give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind that perceives the wonders of Your holy Word. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen