Books as Medicine
September 11, 2013
“Thank you, The Voice of the Martyrs, as your books have helped and encouraged us. These books are a medicine for us.”
—Pastor in Central Asia who oversees six churches
You probably have a stack of books sitting on your bedside table or on a shelf somewhere that you intend to read someday, when you get around to it. We take books for granted. They are readily available in every store, every shopping mall, and all over the Internet. We even have digital books are on our computer tables and e-readers.
But for many around the world, books are a privilege that they can’t easily access. Bookstores sell single copies of a few books in the local language, usually at high prices. And in restricted nations, bookstores rarely even carry Christian books.
One of VOM’s ongoing projects is to fund the translation and printing of key books, including the Bible, into the languages of local Christians so they can grow in their faith and be encouraged. A VOM worker recently visited a Central Asian nation to check on some of the books projects we have ongoing in that country and get feedback on how the books are being used. He came back with several anecdotes.
A church who was hosting a seminar for college-age youth set out copies of Tortured for Christ on a table for the students. During the break, the youth came to the table and began touching the books reverently. Apparently, the youth had heard of Richard Wurmbrand over the years, but they’d never had an opportunity to read or even see his biography. Richard’s life had had a big effect on them, and now they’d have the opportunity to read and own his entire book.
One pastor’s middle-school-aged son was in class when his teacher began telling the story of David and Goliath from the Bible. The boy filled in some parts of the story for the teacher. Astonished, the teacher asked him how he knew the story. The boy told him he had read it in the Bible. The teacher then asked the boy if he had permission from the Orthodox priest to read the Bible. He told the boy if he didn’t have permission, he shouldn’t be reading it.
The books made waves in other Orthodox churches as well, in a positive sense for the recipients and in a negative sense from church leadership. After a VOM worker distributed Hearts of Fire and Tortured for Christ to members of a church in one city, the priest’s sermon the next Sunday taught that it was a sin to receive Christian books. Much like the Church before the Reformation, he and others are afraid of losing control over their parishioners if believers are able to read the Bible for themselves or study the lives of other Christians. They recognize the power of the Holy Spirit working through books.
Church leaders and other Christians recognize the Holy Spirit’s work, too, only they see it as a good thing. One pastor said, “Most of the books we get [from you] go very quickly, particularly Tortured for Christ. …We are very intent that our members read. …These books are a medicine for us.”
It’s thanks to you and many others that VOM is able to supply these books that are like a spiritual balm for readers. We plan to continue these efforts all over hostile and restricted nations, and I hope some of these testimonies help you understand how crucial books are for our brothers and sisters.
Dory P. has worked with VOM for six years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband and two-year-old son, they share five passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.