When God called Ling, a Chinese girl in the 1970's, to be His messenger, she didn't own a Bible. She simply walked from village to village sharing her faith. Whenever she came to a village that owned a Bible, she would memorize verses for her next message. But she longed to have her own; she knew the people she ministered to needed to hear and understand the Word.
Ling visited one village where believers possessed only a few pages of Matthew in which they read the parable of the ten virgins. Five were wise and took along extra oil for their lamps, and five were foolish and did not take extra oil to keep their lamps burning. Taking the passage literally, every church member carried extra oil with them at all times to ensure they would not be without when the Lord comes.
When Ling heard of a woman who had Bibles, she hurried to find her. The woman had only a few that had washed ashore after some Christians had been forced to throw them overboard while trying to smuggle them into China. She had carefully dried the pages in the sunlight.
But she would consider giving one to Ling only on the condition that she quote the Lord's Prayer. Ling went to an elderly man she knew owned a Bible. He cherished his Book and when Ling saw it she understood why. His Bible was completely handwritten. In fact, his hands were now permanently twisted from the thousands of hours he had spent carefully copying each verse. Ling saw many Bibles like this as she continued her ministry.
Ling copied the Lord's Prayer so she could put it to memory and returned to the woman who owned Bibles. The woman required that Ling pray so she would know she was sincere. Then she explained why she was so careful. After the Bibles were collected from the shore, it was very dangerous to distribute them. Some paid with their lives. "Remembering their sacrifice, I treasure these Books even more."
Thank You, Father, for a country in which we can own and read the Bible freely. Help us to cherish it and recognize its true value.
"They are not just idle words for you-they are your life" (Deut. 32:47).
Adapted from Hearts of Fire (p. 204-205) by The Voices of the Martyrs.