For all of you who read this, I’m guessing your days are filled with cookie-baking, candy-making, package-wrapping and celebration-planning. My days are filled with all of that, topped with Voice-sending.
A pastor in North Carolina, Jamie Vaughan, told us about a ministry his church was involved in with the Dan Valley Baptist Association, called the Toy Store.
Underprivileged families come to shop for items for Christmas at pennies on the dollar. Along with several Spanish Bibles, we sent him 200 copies of our new translation, The Voice New Testament, so that every family could receive God’s Word.
“I am overwhelmed!!” Pastor Vaughan said in an email. “I pulled in my driveway and there are boxes all over the car port. My daughter and I just stood speechless. She is 9 years old and she said, ‘Daddy, we are going to give all these Bibles away for Christmas? That's awesome!’ She immediately started grabbing boxes and loading them in the truck. We are forever grateful to you and Thomas Nelson for helping fill a need! I am already looking forward to the day when we will meet people in heaven that we don’t even know who say, ‘I read that Bible that you gave and I believed it. Thanks!’ Tears are streaming down my face now just thinking of your generosity. I know that these families will be blessed because of the part you've played in getting these Bibles in their hands!”
Tears were on my face while reading what he’d written. We are so blessed to have a part in this.
Even Reed is blessed. Reed is our package deliverer. I’m not sure if he loves us or hates us – every couple of days he struggles up the elevator and across the hallways with another 500 of The Voice. He smiles in a pained way and asks where we want them this time. We won’t even talk about the 5,000 envelopes and 5,000 labels he also brought. God protect him.
Then there’s Kerri, our intern. Few of you who have already received The Voice would have done so without her. I direct and keep track from this keyboard, but she’s the one filling the boxes and struggling back across the hallways and back down the elevator to the mail room. She’s irreplaceable.
And so is the Bible, especially the New Testament, in these days of anticipating the celebration of Jesus’ birth. As a mom myself, I often think of what it must have been like for 13-year-old Mary, riding a rough, ornery donkey, nine months pregnant, with no mom or midwife along. All of you moms out there – and you dads who sat beside them – remember what your first birth was like. I wasn’t too sure I was going to survive it. I can’t imagine what it would have been like with no one but my husband. And Mary had only Joseph, whom she wasn’t even close with yet. She didn’t even have a bed, only a hard floor in a dark stable. And yet, a miracle showed forth that night.
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!
Messenger: “Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.”
At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers—a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.
Heavenly Choir: “To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people!”
– The Voice, Luke 2:6-13
In reading The Voice, I find myself following the story as I never have before. With the new flow of words, created from seven years of incredibly accurate translation work, I get pulled into the tale. I think of the awe the stunned shepherds must have felt. I feel the cold, and see the amazing beauty of the messengers – the angels. From dark to light – both literally and spiritually – that night was changed – our world was changed.
So this is a most precious challenge we face in this Christmas season, to not only reach out to friends and family, to not only worship at special church services, but to reach out to the world with a new vibrant Bible in an attempt to reach believers and non-believers alike. We are blessed in an incredible way here at the Thomas Nelson Bible Group, with a mission to hold hands with Jesus as we fight back the darkness to open eyes to His Light.
God bless you all in this season of His love and grace.