Our pastor just got back from a mission trip to Kenya. Charles is strongly convicted about hitting the mission fields, and believes his God-given charge in life is to start 1000 churches. His life and our church are really oriented toward doing just that. I’ve never been at a church that had so much direct involvement with mission activities. I think almost every church donates money to help fuel mission work around the world, but ours actively sends teams of folks many times a year. I’d bet there’s no fewer than eight trips a year consisting entirely of members of our congregation going to Africa, Eastern Europe and South America, along with treks to the cities of our country. In fact, there’s a strong influence of mission work in the older kids’ summer church work.
So Charles was telling some of the stories today about the trip to Kenya. At some point late in the trip, his backpack was stolen from the hotel lobby, and he started telling us what was in the bag, and with every item, the congregation collectively gasped: passport, cash, camera, laptop. And the last thing he mentioned was his Bible. This is the book from which he’s preached for 30 years, and was filled with notes and reflections from that long walk as a minister.
All the rest is replaceable — although getting a new passport in time to make the flight was a challenge — but that single Book is priceless. The Book itself can even be replaced, but the Charles-added portions can’t be re-created easily. After church, Becky and I both mentioned that the best thing that could happen is that that Bible get in the hands of someone open to the messages inside, and that Charles’ notes and lessons could touch one life, and then many others from there. I’m sure he’d say that would be worth the loss.