Two weeks ago, Voice of the Truth (the ministry with which I am associated) received a shipment of 3,000 New Testaments in Amharic, which is part of the Semitic language family, and the main language of Ethiopia.
Last week, on our trip to Pennsylvania for an Arab Baptist Church conference, my senior colleague, unbeknownst to me, packed 10 of these New Testaments into his carry-on bag with hopes of giving them away. The first went to a security guard standing outside the TSA line entrance. Pulling one out of his bag, my colleague said to this Ethiopian man, “Can you read this?” The man’s eyes went big and he said, “Yes, it’s the Holy Word of God!” “Would you like to have it?” “I’m not supposed to take anything while on duty, but I would love to have it!” The gift was given.
After made it through Denver security and got to our concourse, we stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s (it was quite early in the day!). The young lady who served us (and the lady at the next register) was Ethiopian. My colleague dropped another NT on the counter. “Can you read this?” She stared at it a few seconds in amazement, seeing something in her own native tongue. With a bit of meekness, she said “Yes, it’s a New Testament.” “Would you like it? Take it, and read it.” She scooped it up and cradled it in her arms. Her fellow-worker asked, “Do you have another?” “Certainly.” And with a big smile, she thanked us.
We went to sit down with our food in the eating area. An older Ethiopian man was sweeping nearby. My colleague motioned him over and showed him the NT. “Can you read this?” He nodded vigorously. “Would you like it for free?” Again, he nodded vigorously. His supervisor, a younger Ethiopian woman, saw him talking to us and came over, wondering what was going on. When she saw the Amharic NT in the hands of her employee, it was all she could do to keep herself from asking for one. When offered one, with the promise of more for any friends who might want one (our office phone number was written on the inside front page), she thanked us profusely.
A little while later, as we were boarding the plane, I looked back when I got to my seat and couldn’t find my associate. A few minutes later he appeared, far back in the boarding line-up. I found out later that in the jet bridge area he had found an airport employee pushing an empty wheelchair after dropping off a passenger. Another NT given away! That made six.
Three hours later, after landing at Reagan National airport. we came across two other Ethiopians working concession stands. Two more Amharic NTs delivered to hungry seekers.
While at the Arab Church Conference, my associate was talking with the church’s senior pastor, who when he learned of the Amharic NTs asked for one, because, he said, he had an Ethiopian acquaintance who worked at a bank and wanted to give it to him. So far, 9 of 10 given away.
On Monday, Memorial Day, we were back at Reagan National, and connected with another Ethiopian concessionaire. With obvious delight and reverence, she received the tenth NT with both hands.
To tell you the truth, I was blown away by the quiet boldness of my friend and associate in his evident desire to get the Word of God into the hands of people who don’t have easy access to the Scriptures in their own native tongue. I was chastised by his example of concern for the salvation of those that I so easily passed by. I was motivated to want to do the same thing as God provides me many travel opportunities in the future. And I was proud, in a good way, of my friend and associate, and grateful that God has allowed me to work alongside him in ministry! What a blessing for Christians to have the opportunity to share the gift of eternal life with those whose lives we touch!