When I was a missionary we piloted a media program, which offered free bibles through the Church\’s commercials. The Church had just started its aggressive media campaign giving out many types ofÂ free offers. By far, the free bibles were the most requested items people asked for.
What was amusing was that these were not Church published bibles. This was easily discovered when one went to the dictionary of the bible and found the definition of the trinity, which was: \”The Trinity is the true union of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit into one Eternal God\” (I am loosely quoting here, but I know I am not that far off).
There were also definitions for the rapture, apocalypse, and many other modern Christian terms that are not found anywhere in the text of the Holy Bible. Often I was hesitant in giving someone these bibles. I knew there was so much more to gain from the bible that most LDS members used on a daily basis. However, I did hand these bibles out and in the end it proved to be a great tool in meeting sincere people who were seeking for truth and understanding.
You can still receive a free bible from the Church, but now it is the Church\’s official King James version of the bible. I would be curious to see how much of a difference in missionary work these bible have over the bibles I handed out for free as a missionary.
I\’ve been thinking about this experience because I believe there is a lesson to learn. Oftentimes I have found it not possible to give my friends and family the complete restored gospel. They may not be ready to receive, or I may not be ready to give. Either way, it doesn\’t mean I can\’t offer them a free bible—an analogously bible of kindness, or thoughtfulness. This bible may not be exactly everything I want them to have, but I have found that it opens up avenues which were not available to me before.
This line of reasoning is shown in the Book of Mormon when Ammon went to the Lamanites to preach the gospel. The Lamanites having a deep hatred to the Nephites made it nearly impossible for Ammon and his brothern to teach what they knew to be true. In Alma 17:14 we read, \”…they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.\”
Rather than battling this hatred and wickedness directly Ammon went another route:
\”And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure. And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael. And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people. And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die. And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife. But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites.\” (Alma 17:20-25)
From Ammon\’s desire to serve King Lamoni the doors of the gospel were opened to the Lamanite\’s and thousands of souls came unto Christ. Later these converts become known as the Anti-Nephi-Lehi\’s and were some of the most righteous and diligent people found in the Book of Mormon.
This token of a free bible of service that Ammon gave to King Lamoni was more valuable than offering to teach the gospel right away. Had Ammon not followed the promptings of the Spirit his gift of the gospel to King Lamoni would not have been well received.
The Lord desires us to preach the gospel to all. Yet, rarely do we have the chance to present this precious gift in the manner we would desire. Kindness and service truly are like the free bible\’s the Church once handed out. They do not have the entire message enclosed in their covers, but they do have the means to open the hearts and minds of others in order to receive the fullness of salvation.