Stanley had never held a Bible in his hands, let alone read one. So when he joined the Scripture Union Sports Camp this summer and was handed a sports New Testament created for Scripture Union by the Canadian Bible Society, he looked at it – confused – and asked his coach, “Is this a dictionary?”
Like Stanley, many children who go through these sports camps have never seen or owned a Bible. The primary reason is that their family doesn’t go to church or doesn’t own a Bible.
As for me, I was introduced to the Bible by my parents at an early age, so it is hard for me to imagine what it’s like to grow up in a home where God’s Word is not read and talked about. I may not have understood completely the importance of the Bible when I was very young, but, looking back, those years of reading Bible stories and memorizing Christian Scriptures have developed in me the appreciation for God’s Word and the role it played – and continues to play – in my life. It definitely helped me navigate through the treacherous teenage years, gave me wisdom for those life-changing decisions, and provided a guide for day-to-day situations. Most importantly, the Bible led me to Jesus, my Saviour, Friend, and Anchor in life.
That’s why I rejoice whenever I hear stories like Stanley’s – children who are encountering God’s Word for the first time. As a staff member of the Canadian Bible Society, I am so grateful for partner-organizations like Scripture Union (SU) that help children like Stanley engage with the Bible. Seeing the child’s confusion, Stanley’s coach explained what the gift was about and walked him through this precious book. Throughout the week, Stanley engaged in small group discussions and really thought hard about what he was learning. By the end of the week, he was using his Canadian Bible Society New Testament to answer questions.
But what’s really encouraging about children reading the Bible is the impact it has on their life. One of the SU coaches shared about a camper who joined SU’s Sports Camp in 2015. This child started off the week with very difficult behaviour. As he heard more about Jesus and read from the Bible along with other kids during devotions, the coach noticed his behaviour changing. He became more calm and friendly. At the end of the camp, he received his personal Bible, one that he could take home to read.
A year later, the camper was back, carrying the Bible he had received the previous year. His coach shared, “I could tell it was well used by the creases and the worn spine. He told me how he and his brother read a little bit every day on their own, even though he couldn't get to church (their family didn’t own a car).”
Stories like Stanley’s are multiplied across Canada especially during the summer when thousands of children participate in camps. They are a source of encouragement for us at the Canadian Bible Society who want to see the future generation rooted in the Word of God. But perhaps, more than the assurance of a great future for the next generation, we would like to see children encountering Jesus in a personal way. In Matthew 19.14, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (GNT).”
Children matter to Jesus and He longs to draw them to Himself.I am grateful that hundreds of children across Canada, through the help of our partners like Scripture Union, will no longer mistake the Bible for a dictionary. At the end of the summer, they will have opened, read and studied the most important book they will ever encounter in their life. Pray with me that as they continue reading, they will encounter Jesus, the Living Word.
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At what age did you receive your first Bible? What was the first verse you memorized?
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