There was something so familiar in that voice that it was almost mesmerizing. My mom was co-teaching a class at Cairn University with me this past week and she was reading a letter from one of our interns. As she read, I was swept away to a different time and place when I was only a child and loved to hear that same voice. It was strong and confident and made the words so real. I would often get lost in the stories and find myself imagining that I was actually in Narnia or some other imaginary land that she introduced me to. This wonderful voice would animate the books that I read as a child as I could hear her reading in my head even as I was simply reading on my own. Her voice became the soundtrack of my reading world and made my books seem so much more interesting. I loved to watch my friends as they heard my mom read to us and see them discover how a book could really sound. Many of them became book lovers too.
Far too soon, I went off to boarding school and began to live life far from that wonderful voice. No matter the distance between us, I knew one thing for sure; my Mom would be praying for me in that very same voice. We would write to each other (long before e-mail) and I would imagine her reading my letters out loud to my Dad and how different they would sound in her melodic tone. To this day, my siblings and I remember our family devotions as times of excitement and joy as Mom would choose a new book to read that we had never heard before or revisit one of our old favorites. God’s Word never sounded the same when other people read it. Somehow, it seemed to come alive in startling ways when she took the Bible in her hands.
Many years ago, a group of reading and praying moms were asking God for something very specific. They wanted a Christian bookstore in there part of Philadelphia. More importantly, they wanted access to books they could read to their own children and to be able to share their love for great Christian literature. In God’s timing, the CLC team in Fort Washington decided to move a bookstore from the headquarters campus to the very part of the city that these women lived in. God answered that prayer and generations of children have been impacted by this lighthouse in the city.
Tonight, I ventured out into the city to meet with a small group of African American women who had invited me to speak. Once again, praying moms want access to Christian books to make sure this generation gets to hear the gospel through the words of the Bible and other wonderful Christian books. Their passion and excitement for reading was evident from the moment I arrived. Many of them recalled the names of books that had meant so much in their lives. As a special treat, I was able to bring my mom along to this gathering and she got to speak as well. Her belief in the power of the printed page has never changed and she inspired every other woman in the room. Who knows how many more kids will now grow up to be lifelong readers as a result of the passion for reading that these women will share.