With all of the technological tools at the fingertips of missionaries today, I personally feel one of the most important (if not the most important) is a “carrying around Bible.”
Everyone in my opinion should have a “study Bible.” By this I don’t mean a Scofield or Ryrie necessarily, but a Bible with extra wide margins filled with their own personal notes. At the same time everyone should have a “carrying around Bible” that can easily be kept in a bag, or in your hand.
I’m aware that many people prefer the digital form of a Bible on their phone or tablet. I don’t really have a problem with that, but experience has taught me there is a special greater impact to carrying a physical Bible with you almost everywhere.
Before getting to the reasons for carrying a Bible, allow me to clarify that I use the King James Version Bible in ministry and preaching. This is because Vincentians are used to the KJV as a standard text, and I enjoy using the translation itself. However I’m not KJV only, meaning I find authority in the copies of original autographs instead of the 1611 King James Bible.
Now allow me to share some blessings of carrying an actual Bible with you:
- It allows you to unplug: far too much of our time is spent staring at screens. Because we (myself included) are so attached to our devices, a spare moment (waiting in line, waiting for a friend) is spent reaching for our phone. Carrying a physical Bible means being able to unplug from a device. This has an added benefit of starting a conversation about the Lord when people notice your reading a Bible.
- It brings respect: I sometimes share my faith in the morning with men at a local shop (mostly drunks). They often spend time asking me dozens of questions, but when I pull out a Bible they suddenly become very quiet. In a way these men have a internal respect for God’s Word.
- It gives Context: One big reason I carry a physical Bible is cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses often pass out literature in the area. I’ve had more than one conversation with one of the men in particular who loves sharing verses out of context (ignoring the verses before or after them). Having an actual Bible allows me to clarify what the author was saying by paying attention to paragraphs (units of thought) instead of single verses by themselves.
- They can read the verses themselves: Billy Faye in his book “sharing Jesus without fear” encourages Believers to have their unsaved friends read a verse and then ask “what does that mean?” I’ve learned there is a very convicting power to reading the Word of God out loud. This can be done with a phone or tablet of course, however, in my experience the people are more interested in the device.
- You Aren’t Distracted: When reading God’s Word or sharing with someone, my mind must be totally focused on what God says. Using my phone for this can be difficult because my mind will become distracted by a text, or notification. Its also tempting to check email or facebook very quickly while the phones in my hand.
- It challenges my mind: As we listen to others carefully God will bring verses to our mind. Turning and finding those verses in a physical Bible gives great practice in remembering truth instead of googling it.
I am not saying we shouldn’t use digital Bible apps (I have more than one on my phone) but there is a special impact in seeing someone turn the pages of a well-worn Bible.