“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Just a few years ago, I got to travel to Liberia and take a few books with me. On this trip, one of the things I was going to do was to meet some people at the Monrovia Bible Institute (MBI) to see their library. This school has been devastated by war during the 1990s as was the entire country and it was just getting back on its feet. MBI was founded by an African American mission agency (Carver International Missions) and was in the process of starting up their classes again.
When I got in contact with them for their first time and suggested that I might be able to bring some books for their library, they were delighted. They were particularly excited that they would be able to hand pick the resources that I was bringing. I had taken books to lots of places around the world and did not realize how meaningful these books would be. All I could bring with me was a carry-on suitcase filled with reference books – it seemed like a pretty meager gift at the time.
On the day that I went to the Carver campus, I could see that it was bustling with activity as they had a K-12 school (Carver Mission Academy) functioning again and lots of kids in classes. They took me to the library and I was encouraged to see that not all of their books had been stolen or damaged. What I had not envisioned was that the library would have so few books available and that the ones they had would be so dated. With no Christian bookstore in the country since 1996 and many missionaries just returning after the war, it was not surprising that they would have had a lack of current resources, but it was still overwhelming to see.
I put my small suitcase on a table and proceeded to show them what I had brought. As I took the books out one by one, I will never forget the looks on the people I met that day. You would have thought that I had unpacked gold bars and not academic reference books. Everyone in the room was smiling from ear to ear and some were nearly tearful. They were particularly excited when I took out the Africa Bible Commentary that had just been published. This book was written by Africans for Africans and they had never seen it before.
This small suitcase and its contents were so much more impactful than I could have imagined. Today, the Carver team can get great Christian resources again in Monrovia as the CLC store re-opened last September. Reference books are a major part of the product selection being offered and there are now many options to choose from at reasonable prices.
I love to be the one who brings good news, whatever that news may be. The reality though is that I will only be able share the good news of the gospel in person with a limited number of people in my lifetime. The books that I help to publish and distribute, though, may have a far greater impact. They will get passed from person to person and last long after I am gone. They never get tired, worn out or grumpy like I do. A book placed in the right hands can change a life forever.