Two unrelated events in my life have made one major impact on my commitment to read God’s Word. The first happened while I was a college student. Professor Gene Petty had just come to Ouachita Baptist University from Duncan, Immanuel.
The room was filled with new ministry students, and we were about to encounter a very important series of questions. Petty asked, “How many of you young men plan to obey God’s Word?” We all eagerly raised our hands. He then asked, “How many of you young men believe all of the Scripture and plan to preach all of it?” Again we all eagerly raised our hands.
With one last question he changed all of our lives. “How many of you young men have read the entire Bible?” Only two others raised their hands with me. He said, “How can you say you’re obeying what you haven’t read, and how can you preach what you haven’t read?” That day and that conversation has stayed with me to this very moment.
The second event happened just about one year ago. I was asked to come in on my day off and give some business leaders from China a tour of the Baptist Building. I must say I wasn’t really too excited about putting on a suit and traveling to the office for a couple of hours in the middle of my day off, but now I can say I’m sure glad I did!
The tour began on the first floor, and we went throughout the six floors with the Mobilization Team (the Team I lead) being the last. We went into the Missions Room, and I stood next to the life-size standup poster of Lottie Moon. I told her story and then pointed them to the poster of Lucy Smith, an Oklahoma former missionary who was forced out of China when the Communists took over.
Holding Lucy’s Bible that she carried in China, I spoke of the reason why God led Lottie and Lucy to China. Every person in the room was weeping as I told of the personal sacrifices these women made to meet the physical and spiritual needs of women and children in China.
We moved to my office, and I gave each of them a Bible written in both Mandarin and English. One man turned to the interpreter and explained that he want to tell me something in English and asked the interpreter to help him say it if his words were not accurate.
Holding the Bible up, he said to me, “One day I will be a follower of Jesus like you.” Before I could say anything, the interpreter, who also is a missionary, asked “Why not today?” The man looked at me and then back at him and said, “I must first read this book, so I will know who I’m following!” Wow, what a powerful statement.
Here we are at the beginning of a new year. Could there be a better resolution than to read the entire Bible this year? I’ve made this challenge at every church I’ve served as pastor, and many have taken the challenge. Every single person who did, thanked me for the encouragement, and not a single one was disappointed that they did it.