In my almost six decades of life, I've had to deal with sickness, deaths of loved ones and friends, economic ups and downs, and my share of heartache (both given and received). When I came to the understanding of my total inability to save myself, was converted, and embraced the Christian faith, I gravitated towards authors and mentors who took seriously the call to disciple the nations. Through the years, I have had the honor of knowing committed missionaries who, despite the hardship and peril of their callings, embraced the Great Commission with vigor. There have been many heroes of the faith in the history of Christendom, and these men and women serving in dark places are among them.
Recently while dining with a visiting African missionary, I was asked to direct him to a good, local Christian bookstore. Sadly, there was not one to recommend. I was embarrassed at what passes for American Christianity, knowing that to a man who has been ambushed, threatened, and imprisoned for his faith, the offerings at the local store would appear as shallow as they are.
Today a catalog from the store I could not recommend arrived in my mailbox. This 32-page offering instructed me on its cover to Share the Joy. A quick perusal confirmed why this store was not what my missionary friend would find useful. In addition to the lukewarm fare of broadly evangelical "theological" and "doctrinal" books, there were pages advertising romance novels, knick-knacks, Bible editions of board games, and the newest offering in vegetables teaching God's Word to children, The League of Incredible Vegetables. Is this where those who wish to learn more about the Christian Faith are supposed to shop? And we wonder why Christians in Africa and China feel the need to come and evangelize the West!
Here are some of their new Bible offerings and descriptions with my emphasis added:
- The Tiara Bible: Embellished with glitter and sparkling "jewels," this Bible includes a 24-page full-color "princess" inserts, maps, time lines and other special helps developed for girls aged 7-11.
- The Sequin Bible: With larger easy to read type and the full International Children's Bible translation text, girls aged 7-11 will love this Bible embellished with sequins and glitter!
- My Beautiful Princess Bibles: The popular New Living Translation with special notes and features for little girls aged 3 and up! Over 500 highlighted verses, 24 full-color pages with love letters from God and beautiful prayers, plus favorite females of the Bible highlight this unique "princess" themed Bible.
- The Voice Bible: The new faithful dynamic equivalent translation that reads like a story with all the truth and wisdom of God's Word brought to life through compelling narratives, poetry, and teaching. A collaborative work of more than 120 scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and artists. The Voicerecaptures the passion, grit, humor and beauty of Scripture!
I could list more, but you get the point. There are "Bibles" designed for every consumer type. Will reading these "Bibles" and other "Christian" offerings create Christians who will change their culture? Will children raised on this fare grow up to be strong enough to go overseas to minister God's Word in places of great hardship, and maybe martyrdom?
The majority of professing Christians continue to use the state schools for their children's education, and then hand them off to children's church and Sunday school classes to learn the faith, so it is little wonder that we don't see much evidence of American Christians changing culture. We've taught them that Christianity is a "feel good" religion and neglected to teach them of the sacrifice of martyrs throughout the centuries of Christendom. We also fail to let them learn of the hardships of missionaries who are currently serving Christ in difficult circumstances.
It is time for a change: no more happy stuffed animals sticking their smiling faces out of the ark; no more sentimental morality stories that never mention Jesus Christ; no more enticing children with vegetable-people or glittery trinkets to teach them about their Creator and Savior; and no more marketing ploys that communicate that gimmicks are needed to engage people in the life-changing effect of the Word of God.
A helpful place to start would be to have your family participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (November 4, 2012), sponsored by my African missionary friend from Frontline Fellowship.