Jesus, could you please send me a Bible!” was the desperate plea of one half-starved boy from a village in the Henan Province. But this was communist China in the 1970s; there were no Bibles where he lived, and those caught possessing one would be tortured, if not killed. However, so deep was the longing this young boy had for the Word of God that he began to fast and plead with God, day and night. His family thought he was losing his mind, but he did not give up. One hundred days later, God answered his prayer in a miraculous way and sent him a Bible.
He only had a third-grade education. He could barely read simple Chinese. Using a dictionary, he painstakingly looked up one Chinese character at a time, treasuring every word of Scripture. Day after day, whenever he had a break from his work in the fields, he would secretly steal away to pray and read his Bible.
Finally, after reading through the whole Bible, he went back to the New Testament and started to memorize it, one chapter at a time. Then he began to share it with others.
Now known as Brother Yun from the book The Heavenly Man, this young boy went on to preach the gospel to many starving souls in China. Many house churches were started, amazing answered prayers were seen, and thousands have been won to Christ.
When I read testimonies like that of Brother Yun, I often ask myself, Do I really recognize the treasure I’ve been given in the Word of God? Is spending time in prayer and meditating on God’s Word more precious than all my earthly pursuits?
Job said, “ ‘I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food’ ” (Job 23:12).1
Jeremiah’s testimony was, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).
Today, the Bible is the most widely published and translated book of all time. Yet, despite it being more accessible than it has ever been in history, we have lost our appreciation for this priceless treasure. We have also forgotten our need for earnest prayer. Truly, we are experiencing the famine spoken about by the prophet Amos, “Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (8:11b).
I love this inspirational thought: “The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us, just as surely as if we could hear it with our ears. If we realized this, with what awe we would open God’s Word and with what earnestness we would search its precepts. The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Infinite One.”2
We study and pray not simply to get more information for our sermons or to better debate our doctrines—but to know Jesus personally and so that He can change our lives—and our ministry. Eugene Peterson stated, “The visible lines of pastoral work are preaching, teaching, and administration. The small angles of this ministry are prayer, Scripture, and spiritual direction. . . . If we get the angles right it is a simple matter to draw in the lines. But if we are careless with or dismiss the angles, no matter how long or straight we draw the lines we will not have a triangle, a pastoral ministry.”3
So, the next time you are looking up cross-references, don’t forget the power of the cross. While searching for those exciting chain-references, don’t lose sight of the One who gave all His blood that your chains might be broken and you might be set free.
The Word is our Treasure Chest—and the greatest Treasure of all is Jesus!
1 Scripture quotes taken from New King James Version of the Bible.
2 Ellen G. White, A Call to Stand Apart (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2002), 69.
3 Eugene H. Petersen, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1987).