“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I love the Bible. It is a powerful book. Its words have changed my life; teaching me, comforting me, directing and healing me. In looking for ways to evangelize in a simple, straight forward manner, I found an answer. Do you have a favorite version of the Bible? Do you recall a Christian book that had a powerful impact on your spiritual life?
Jesus said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35b). It is clear that most church-goers know where to get a Bible or the latest Christian book. But where would unbelievers go to research the Bible, which they may have heard so much about? Where would they go if he wanted to read about Christianity?
You see, unbelievers don’t have access to your church’s library. Neither do they have access to the Christian curriculum you enjoy in your Christian schools, Bible colleges, and Christian camps. The local library may be the only place they might bump into Christian literature. So why don’t we make it a little harder to miss, by stocking the shelves well?
My suggestion is to do a catalogue search at your local library to see if they carry a copy of your favorite version of the Bible and your favorite Christian book. An unbeliever would probably be unwilling to walk into a Christian bookstore, for fear of being brainwashed or attacked by an overzealous evangelist. But the local library is a safe, neutral place for most ordinary citizens who want to read about and study the religions of the world. Make it available for your community to read and borrow at will.
- Books. Most libraries are happy to accept book donations and will add them to their collection as long as they don’t have several copies already in stock. My suggestion is to buy new copies of your favorite version of the Bible and/or Christian book and donate them freely to your local library. In most scenarios they will happily be added to their collection and listed in their computerized catalogues.
- CDs and DVDs. Perhaps your library’s music department could use a CD of your favorite Christian music? Don’t be afraid to call and ask a staff member a few questions. You may want to ask them if they would value a contribution of a Christian music CD or children’s animation DVD.
Effectiveness: The faith approach
How you present the book is important. I would not recommend going to your local library dressed in your Sunday best and talking loudly. Try a soft spoken, casual and friendly approach. Most libraries will accept a brand new Bible to add to their collection. They might be willing to accept a Bible based on its value as a “historic” reference book. Remember, your goal is not to try to convert the librarian, you are just trying to get the Bible onto its shelves. Make sure you haven’t stuffed it with tracts or written anything at all inside the book. You are offering the Bible at face value.
Place your faith in the power of God’s Word, not forgetting that this is a selfless act done in a spirit of love. You are not trying to push your own religion on anyone, but rather to increase the visibility of the most powerful Book in the world. In speaking to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul talks about God’s work in bringing them to faith in Christ, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6,7).
Bring the whole idea to the Lord in prayer. The Holy Spirit will confirm to you if this is a method of witnessing that is right for you. God may lead you to bring this idea to your Bible study or small group and make it a group project. The Holy Spirit may even guide you towards certain books, tapes or DVD’s which only He knows that someone in your library’s community is searching for.
This is not a risk-free effort. It is going to cost you a little something to do this. There is a small risk that the book may be devalued and tossed into the “Used Books for Sale” bin. It can also be a little bit intimidating to walk into a public library with a brand new Bible in your hand, trying to find out whom to give it to, without being afraid of being labeled a religious fanatic. But what’s the fun without a little risk? If you are taking new territory for God, namely shelf space, put on the spirit of a pioneer and take the risk. You never know how many hungry souls will be blessed and even saved for all eternity through your small step of faith.
Wouldn’t it also be convenient for low-income believers to be able to gain access to these forms of media for free? What is stopping us from taking up more space in our towns, through the local library? What are we afraid of losing? A ten dollar book and $1.oo for the parking meter?
Library evangelism is quiet, safe, risky, exciting and powerful all at the same time. If you are ready to evangelize, God has a method that suits you and complements your character. Public street preaching is not everyone’s cup of tea, and neither is library book donation. I personally like it, because it involves very little speaking, and yet you are giving your town a very practical tool, that God can place into the hands of a hungry soul at search for God.
Everyone who feels the desire to have a Bible or simply to read one, should be able to do so freely and comfortably. Libraries are one great big white field, ripe unto harvest. Why should shelf space be wasted on mountains of godless fiction, while the Book that changes lives, is what every person should read?
Pray and believe God for His wisdom and leading. The Holy Spirit is simply looking for willing hearts that are capable of taking a tiny step of faith towards one lonely library shelf. May God bless and inspire you in all your witnessing, and give you great joy and pleasure, as you spread His wonderful message of love throughout your world.