Recently, Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio interviewed “Uncle Monnie,” a missions pastor who encourages pastors all over the world, including countries where Christians are persecuted.
Uncle Monnie told a story about 700 Christian youth who met together for a retreat in the Soviet Union. At that time, in the 1950s, Christians were often put in prison.
The retreat leaders told the youth, “You are not in prison yet. We want you to get in small groups and write out all four of the Gospels.” [The four Gospels are the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.] The leaders wanted the students to be prepared in case they found themselves in a situation where they wouldn’t have a Bible.
“They all got together and they worked on it, and they had so much fun they decided to do the Book of Acts as well,” Uncle Monnie said. There were only seven places where they were a little fuzzy; where they didn’t exactly get every verse. But otherwise, they had all first five books of the New Testament from memory.”
In December of 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart as a nation and broke up into smaller countries. The citizens in most of the countries had more freedom after the break-up.
Uncle Monnie continued the story: “They did that same event about five years after the Soviet Union broke up. They did the same thing again, and none of the kids could even write even one verse from any of the books. Because once they got freedom, they forgot everything. They didn’t need to memorize it.
“So that is going to be one of the great problems for a pastor in working with young people and those that want to go into missions. Most of them don’t know the Bible, and they are not prepared for where they need to go….The hardest part about being a missions pastor in an American church is not getting discouraged because everywhere you see there are church members who are biblically illiterate.”
To Talk About
*Someone who is “biblically illiterate” lacks knowledge of the basic facts and teachings of the Bible. Why is it important for missionaries to know the Bible?
*By yourself or with a group, choose a chapter of the Bible that you don’t know very well. Read the chapter, then share three things you learned about the chapter that you didn’t know before. Memorize one verse from the chapter.