There are literally thousands of people groups around the world who have no access to a Bible in their own language. Can you imagine that? How many do you have? How precious to you is the Word of God? Would you be willing to lay down your life for access to Scripture? Are our iphones more important to us than the Bible?
I read the following account when I was a teenager and recently again as an adult:
16 years old, Asia 1970s – The Communist soldiers had discovered their illegal bible study. As the Pastor was reading from the bible, men with guns suddenly broke into the home, terrorizing the believers who had gathered to worship. They shouted insults and threatened to kill the Christians. The leading officer pointed his gun at the pastor’s head. “Hand me your bible” he demanded. Reluctantly the pastor handed over his bible, his prized possession. With a sneer on his face, the guard threw the bible to the floor. He glared at the small congregation. “We will let you go” he growled, “but first you must spit on this book of lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot.” The believers had no choice but to obey the officer’s order. A soldier pointed his gun at one of the men. “You first”. The man slowly got up and knelt down by the Bible. Reluctantly, he spat on it, praying, “Father, please forgive me.” He stood up and walked to the door. The soldiers stood back and allowed him to leave.“Okay, you!” the soldier said, nudging a woman forward. In tears, she could barely do what he demanded. She spat only a little, but it was enough. She too was allowed to leave. Quietly a young girl came forward. Overcome with love for her Lord, she knelt down and picked up the bible. She wiped off the spit with her dress. “What have they done to your Word? Please forgive them,” she prayed. The Communist soldier put his pistol to her head and pulled the trigger.
Do I really love the Bible? Doubtful. I don’t recall this story to feel guilty. I recall it as a challenge to my life. You see, I believe that a day in the very near future is coming when we will not have ready access to the Bible. I think that sooner than any of us could fathom, Bibles will be illegal, deemed a form of hate speech. What would I do if I faced imprisonment or death if I chose to secretly read the Bible? What if all copies of the Bible were destroyed. What would I do? How would my faith endure? Would I be ready?
I have a friend who has spent the last year memorizing the book of Romans. She isn’t finished yet, but she is committed. Now this friend doesn’t have a photographic memory, tons of time or any other skill that would predispose her to making scripture memory easier–except that she is dedicated. If she lives to see the day that Bibles are forbidden, no government official will be able to take the Word from her–it will be written on her heart. Indeed, if she goes to a foreign nation where the gospel is illegal, she could bring the Word of God to unreached peoples because she has put the work in to memorize the Bible while she has access to it.
This has really inspired me. I have watched her labor for over a year and made several excuses as to why I shouldn’t do the same, but no longer. Being inspired by her example, I am committed to memorizing the gospel of Mark. This may take me several months, but with disciplined practice, it is entirely feasible.
Memorizing entire books of the Bible isn’t a new idea. Historically, Jewish boys learned the entire Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) by the time they were 12. Can you imagine memorizing the book of Numbers?? That’s incredible! Indeed, there are many people all throughout the persecuted church that have also committed large portions of Scripture to memory because they so treasure what we so often take for granted.
What if 66 people committed to each memorizing one book of the Bible? Then, as long as they were alive, so too would the Word of God endure! What if those people taught two other people to do the same? Can you imagine the impact?
If you want to consider taking up this challenge and discipline, here are some books of the Bible that are great starting points:
- Philippians (all)
- Colossians (all)
- 2 Timothy (all)
- James (all)
- 1 Peter (all)
- 1 John (though this one is tough because of how cyclical it is)
Here’s a great resource to get you started: