My First Bible
I grew up in a religious but not a believing Christian home. My family went to church every week, but none of us had a personal relationship with Jesus. During the summer of 1957 when I was 5 years old, our next-door neighbor invited me to a week of their church’s VBS, which my parents were happy for me to attend. Part of the daily VBS activities was listening to Bible stories from a small red book called My First Bible. I clearly remember sitting on the floor in a group listening to Miss Terry read the Bible stories, while showing us the corresponding story artwork. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the first time I heard the Gospel of Jesus.
Another 35 years passed for my next encounter with My First Bible. Badeen and I had served as missionaries for seven years in Asia with OM Ships and were then serving in Europe with the International Bible Society (IBS). Our ministry was leading the translation, printing, and distribution of Bibles and Christian books in 24 countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. The primary children’s Bible story book we printed, in cooperation with Tyndale House Publishers, was My First Bible. In our 12 years with IBS, we saw almost 1 million of these books placed in the hands of children, who had never heard about salvation through Jesus. Of this number, more than 10,000 copies of My First Bible were printed and distributed in Kazakhstan.
Our Lord has once again connected me with My First Bible this year. In April, I was in Uruguay onboard OM Ships’ Logos Hope for training ship’s staff. One of our staff members I met was Lana from Kazakhstan. In talking with Lana, she told me she grew up in an atheistic family. I asked Lana if she remembered ever receiving a red Bible story book and showed her a photo of My First Bible. Lana immediately recognized the book and said she received a copy as a young girl, which was the first Christian book her parents allowed her to own. Lana said her mother read ‘My First Bible’ to her at night, and it was instrumental in her receiving Christ. Since then, all her family have accepted Jesus. The same children’s Bible story book has made a significant difference in both Lana’s and my life.
All of Lana’s family are now Jesus followers living in Houston, Texas.
Joseph serves as Help Ministries Director of OM Ships International.