Do Christmas gifts bear fruit, even when they’re not from Harry & David? Well, sometimes!
After giving many copies of The Word on Fire Bible (Volume I): The Gospels to friends and family this past Christmas, those gifts have begun to bear fruit. Besides greatly simplifying my shopping, these gifts advanced my own evangelization efforts in a very easy and non-threatening way. Some interesting conversations and steps toward a deeper faith have come from those gifts. After reflecting on those conversations and scanning the testimonials that have come into the Word on Fire office, it’s clear that this Bible is an outstanding tool for evangelization for all types of people.
Many people have left the Church because they say that, as a Catholic, they have never had “a personal encounter with Jesus.” Some say they found that transformative encounter in other Christian denominations. A personal relationship with the Lord is key to being a faithful disciple, and it’s definitely available within the Catholic Church (What’s more personal than the Eucharist?). However, not everyone experiences or realizes it, maybe because the terminology sounds a bit too Protestant. However, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the necessity of a personal encounter with Christ when he wrote: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Elsewhere, he went on to say: “Faith is first and foremost a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, it is having an experience of his closeness, his friendship and his love. It is in this way that we learn to know him ever better, to love him and to follow him more and more.”
This life-changing encounter with our Lord can come from the sacraments, prayer, and the Word, plus any way God chooses to share himself with us intimately. However, many traditional Bibles leave us overwhelmed with their tight text and lack of adornment. People constantly say they “tried to read the Bible,” but became discouraged or got bogged down. The layout and design of The Word on Fire Bible seek to address this concern. As one testimony reads: “I have never encountered Christ as much or as closely as I have when reading through this volume.” Well, yes; effective communication rarely comes from words alone. Beauty matters, a fuller engagement of the senses matters, in every encounter, including encounters with the Word.
Lead with Beauty
As Bruce Springsteen sang, “Everybody’s got a hungry heart.” Too few realize that their hunger is for the truth of the Gospels, for a friendship with Jesus Christ. Word on Fire promoted its Bible with “a look inside,” which led to positive comments from surprising sources: “I’m an atheist and I’m considering buying it,” wrote one person. “The added commentaries of this book add so much value to this beautiful volume.” So don’t be afraid to gift this edition of the Gospels to the “unreligious.” Even many professed atheists are curious about Jesus.
Word on Fire has received many compliments on the beauty of the Bible’s design, artwork, and graphics. “The beautiful leads to the good; the good leads to the true,” posts Simple Life Musings. Another atheist even wrote to Word on Fire, saying, “Full disclosure, I’m a faithless atheist, but the beauty of this book gave me goosebumps.” Hopefully this atheist will recognize this prompting of the Holy Spirit and keep reading, coming to realize that the one living and true God is seeking him.
“For Christmas I gave a leather copy to my best friend back home who is non-religious and then also one to his parents who also are non-religious. They were completely blown away. I wish I had videoed their responses,” said one Word on Fire fan. “When I gave it to his parents, everyone at the family party circled around and oooh’d and ahhh’d over it. His mom was in awe over the gold trim and vibrant images. They wouldn’t stop thanking me and talking about it all night. I’d never seen anyone react to a book that way. It speaks to the beauty of this book and the heart’s desire for the spiritual life.”
Scripture can be a great unifier with our fellow Christians. It’s one of many things we have in common and allows us to truly connect over the truth. One of my evangelical friends received my gift and said, “OK, I’m packing this to take on vacation next week for sure.” I also received a text from a Presbyterian friend who said someone in her Bible Study brought The Word on Fire Bible to the group and everyone was amazed. She inquired about having her group use it, and possibly even doing the Bible study that we have in the works for the Gospel volume.
What about Catholics? We’ve all heard the sad charge that many Catholics are “sacramentalized, but not evangelized.” How many Catholics do you know who fall into this category—even those who still attend Mass?
“The evangelization pack [a discounted set with one leather volume and four paperback volumes] is genius. I immediately thought of two friends I could give a copy to and invite them back to church after drifting for a few years. Within five minutes, I prayed and the other two names came to me. Might have to order another pack once I’ve given out these four,” writes an enthusiastic commenter.
My hairdresser, who was raised Catholic and is still practicing, said that she never really learned or understood the key teachings of the faith or what was going on at Mass. She said her husband, a convert, knows so much more. Her son asked if Jesus was God, and she couldn’t answer because she didn’t know. We talked for an hour as we thumbed through the Bible and I showed her how easy it is to read and understand. She said, “Finally, I will truly know the faith and will be able to answer my kids’ questions!” I would never have guessed that she had so little understanding of the faith had I not given her the Bible for Christmas. Luckily, I see her every 5-6 weeks, so can keep the conversation going!
Easter is right around the corner, as are graduations and confirmations; this will also be a banner year for weddings, given all the postponements from 2020. For these occasions, consider giving a gift of truth with The Word on Fire Bible. The second volume, which contains the rest of the New Testament, is currently in the works. A whole library of evangelization tools just waiting for you to use!