In some parts of the world people have the Word of God, but lack one important skill necessary to understanding it: the ability to read. It’s hard for those of us from cultures where reading is a given to imagine this, but it’s true. Imagine all the work it takes to translate the Bible. Think of the years of language learning, acquiring cultural insight, and checking the final product. Think of all the hours needed to establish a church.
… And then imagine the missionaries handing over the Bible and leaving.
In places where the tribal people are strong readers, the church has thrived. In areas where there are few or no readers, the Bible is of no value.
There are places in the world where young believers carry around a copy of the Bible in their own language in hopes that it will keep them from getting sick or will ward off evil spirits. Their Bible is nothing but a talisman, because they cannot be fed from it.
I believe that the Holy Spirit guides the believer in all truth. I believe that where no Bible is present, Christians can still grow and learn. But I also believe that God chose to have his words written down and that he knew exactly what he was doing. Having this letter from our Father is a gift, and we must share that gift along with the gift of salvation.
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