There are a few times in life when it becomes clear why God made you and what he made you for. This was certainly true for Queen Esther in the Old Testament when it was written, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
While I have personally had a few of those moments, I have also recently begun to have the same sort of clarity about the value of ministry that I serve in. While many people in the West are wringing their hands about the future of brick and mortar book retailing, publishing and even reading itself, CLC finds itself at the nexus of a world that needs and values Christian books more than ever.
In Latin America, Africa, and Asia the evangelical church is exploding and growth rates in the church have exceeded the wildest expectations of many. This has resulted in a desperate need for qualified Christian leaders and pastors to shepherd and shape these congregations. The reality is that many of these churches will be led by men and women who are passionate about the gospel, but who do not have formal theological training of any kind. For these people, our stores and the resources they provide may be the only seminary education they will ever receive.
While technology has dramatically changed the world we live in, there are still many countries where electricity supply is intermittent and not reliable. In these places, (including Northern India which recently lost power for hundreds of millions of people), the ingenious technology of the physical book is highly valued and prized. It does not have and on/ off switch and will never lose its content because of a software glitch.
So much of the nature of communication itself has changed that entire conversations take place these days via text message, tweets, or Facebook updates. This has led to shorter and shorter attention spans for the next generation of young people who have widely embraced this style of communication. There has never been a greater need for long form writing that allows for reflection, analysis and persuasion. The whole council of God will never be affectively conveyed in 144 characters. Books allow us to dig deeper on our own time schedules into the riches of God’s word and the brilliance of his servants who have written down so much wisdom for us to absorb.
While evangelicalism continues to face massive challenges in post Christian Europe and churches are being converted into discos, our Christian resource centers function as connecting point for entire communities. Many spiritually aware people who would have formerly sought out a church for answers to their nagging questions now seek answers wherever they can be found. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of commercial centers all over Europe, CLC has established places of refuge and safety that provide answers, hope and light.
As the leader of our ministry here in the USA, I have the enormous responsibility of connecting the resources of the evangelical church to the needs of a world that is rapidly becoming more and more literate. What a joy and privilege it is to work shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters all over the world who are making evangelical Christian literature available to the nations. I long for the day when we will all gather around the throne of the King we serve and worship with people of every tongue, tribe and nation. I am pretty sure that I will meet some people who came to faith and maturity in Jesus Christ because of the simple work of a mission that made books and Bibles available in their native language.