Don Richardson is a missionary and well known author who has written several fascinating books (Peace Child, and Lords of the Earth) but I especially like his book Eternity in Their Hearts. In it, Richardson contends that there is amazing evidence of “belief” in the one true God scattered among hundreds of cultures around the world. He believes that God has literally “placed eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) as a precursor to the arrival of the gospel. It is a fascinating read.
My favorite story in that book involves the Karen people of Burma. In 1795, it seems that an English diplomat arrived in Burma and had reason to visit the Karen tribe. When he entered a village, he received a radiant welcome. The guide said, “This is most interesting, these tribesmen think you may be a certain white brother whom they as a people have been expecting from time immemorial.”
The diplomat replied, “Ask them what this white brother is supposed to do when he arrives.” The guide answered, “He is supposed to bring them a book…a book just like one their forefathers lost long ago. They are asking with bated breath, hasn’t he brought it?”
The diplomat asked, “And who pray tell is the author whose book has power to charm illiterate folk like these.” “They say the author is Y’wa, the supreme God. They say that the white brother having given them the lost book, will thereby set them free from all who oppress them.”
This dialogue was recorded in a manuscript entitled “An Account of an Embassy to the Kingdom of Ava in the year 1795.”
Twenty two years later, an American Baptist missionary named Adoniram Judson arrived in Burma. He poured himself into his ministry of prayer, Bible translation and preaching, but it took over seven years before he had his first convert to Christianity.
However, the providence of God arranged for a Karen man to come to the household where Judson was staying. Ko Thah-byu needed to work off a debt and as he did so, he came under the preaching of the gospel. Ko Thah-byu began to ask questions about “the origin of the gospel and about those white strangers who had brought the message and the book which contained it. Suddenly everything fell into place for him. His spirit received the love of Jesus Christ like dry land absorbing rain.”
As time went by, Ko Thah-byu threw himself into ministry work. Soon “he had aroused virtually the entire Karen population with the gospel and cast himself like a firebrand into the midst of other Karen populations in central Burma. The fires he ignited in the midst of his people still blaze in Burma a century and a half later.” The “lost book” made a profound impact among the Karen people!
This week, as I reviewed this story I matched it up with a recent article from CNN that highlighted an app called the “YouVersion” of the Bible. Within that one app there are 300 versions of the Bible available to people speaking 144 different languages. This app has been downloaded 65 million times since 2008. Users have spent more than 31.5 billion minutes reading the Bible. And on last Thursday alone, 620 Bible searches were completed in Malaysia and 93 chapters had been listened to in Jordan (countries very closed to the gospel).
The “lost” book continues to reach the hearts of “lost” men and women!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel