John Wesley said, “Reading Christians are growing Christians. When Christians cease to read, they cease to grow.”
I think this is true. I don’t think that John Wesley was only referring to reading the Bible. John Wesley was a prolific author (if you don’t know who John Wesley is, he was the father of the Methodist church). He understood that reading and grappling with ideas and interpretations of Biblical issues encourages spiritual growth.
It saddens me to hear that people today are reading less then in previous generations. Yes, we have new forms of entertainment (thanks to technological advances) to consume our time. However, I believe that it is important for Christians to carve out time to read for their own spiritual growth and maturation.
In honor of Read-A-New Book month (September), I am going to share about a book I recently read that touched me. The book contained an incredibly profound story that gives a great perspective to the current social and political climate in the United States.
I love biographies. I especially love missionary biographies. So when I was given a copy of Growing Up Yanomamo by Michael Dawson. I eagerly began to read the book. Michael grew up as a missionary in Venezuela and has continued to serve the Lord there as an adult. His book is full of incredible stories of the power of God and the ways God manifests himself to a stone-age jungle tribe and the people who share the gospel with them.
I especially loved Michael’s stories about how playing gospel music kept the evil spirits away and how the shaman (witch doctors) would complain when his family played gospel music because their “spirit guides” would not come near them while this music played. After reading this, I decided to sing or listen to praise songs more often throughout the day.
Michael tells the story of a converted shaman who had a word for an unbelieving university professor who did not see the need for the Gospel message in changing lives. This shaman said the following about the United States of America:
“While out in the jungle, if I notice a storm approaching I grab my machete and begin to build a lean-to shelter. Working quickly, I cut the poles and palm leaves I need. I then run and pull some vines to tie the whole thing together. I build my shelter and get under it before it starts raining. Now, if you come running up right before the storm breaks and I let you come in, you are just as dry as I am, although you have done no work. You are dry because you are under my shelter. I submit that that is what you have done here. My friend here has told me how this country was founded by people coming across the great water because they wanted to serve God. They built this country great by having the shelter of God’s word over them. You can live a life of peace here because you are under the shelter that they built. You have done nothing to deserve this life, but you are enjoying the benefits of their labor. Now my people, on the other hand, have no shelter. So that is why I say the first and only change that will really help my people is to have this shelter that is Jesus. We have no other hope.”
In his book, Michael speaks of the power of books in his own life; how in the midst of his own grief journey, a missionary friend gave him a book that ministered to him.
For Read-A-New Book month, I encourage you to share with others in your life about a great book you have recently read. Maybe you could even give someone a copy of the book to encourage them to read it also. Let’s pass the love of reading and growing on to others.