My favorite Christmas gift… a Bible

Photo: ©2012 Collins Kaumba/World Vision

Photo: ©2012 Collins Kaumba/World Vision

Our “My Favorite Christmas Gift…” series continues as World Vision staff, partners and friends share stories around World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

Today we hear from Marilee Pierce Dunker, World Vision’s Ambassador for Children.

What do you give the person who needs everything?

I have just returned from a trip to Zambia where I had the opportunity to visit with a group of twenty-five World Vision trained caregivers. For more than a decade these men and women have given their lives to help care for people in their communities who are stricken with AIDS and other serious diseases, like malaria and cancer. Often, despite their best efforts, the patient dies and almost every one of these selfless servants are also raising orphans who had no one left to care for them.

I sat for over an hour listening to the stories of these frontline warriors. Many of the stories were heartbreaking. Others were hopeful and encouraging. All were told with quiet dignity and grace and with a courage that told me these were people who would never accept defeat easily or see life as anything other than a gift from God. It was obvious from their testimonies that their faith in Christ was one of their greatest personal weapons and resources.

I asked how many of them had ever received a bicycle or caregiver kit. Almost every hand went up, but my joy was short–lived when they let me know that many of the bicycles had now worn out on the rocky, uneven roads and that most of the kits had been emptied long ago. “I still carry mine,” one man piped up with a smile. “I use it to carry my lunch.”

I made a mental note to come home and push for new bicycles and kits (both available through the Christmas catalog). But then something unexpected happened. Fred, the World Vision area director, set a box by my feet and said, “As a thank you for all these people do, World Vision would like to give them a gift. And we thought you would like to be the one to hand it to them.”

I watched as the box was opened to reveal stacks of shiny, new black Bibles. As I lifted the first book up for all to see, a gasp went through the crowd. I was surrounded by a sea of smiling faces as a chorus of thanks filled the air, accented by the trilling ululation many African women make when they are especially excited.

I had the joy of handing each caregiver a Bible. I saw the reverence with which they held the book and the awe on their faces as they opened its pages to read the scriptures in their own language. Later I was told that many of them had never owned a Bible and some may have never actually held one in their hands.

Looking back on that moment I am humbled to think of all the Bibles I have been given throughout my lifetime, starting with my first illustrated children’s edition. Would I be the woman of faith I am today if I hadn’t had the constant feeding of the Word in my life? Looking at the faith of the caregivers I met, I have to believe God would still have gotten me where He wanted me to go. But I can’t help but wonder what “greater works” those amazing world-changers will do now that they have all of the promises of God in the palms of their hands!

Give the gift of a Bible today and share the meaning and message of Christmas.

Marilee with the recipients of World Vision Bibles. Photo courtesy of Marilee Pierce Dunker.

Marilee with the recipients of World Vision Bibles.
Photo courtesy of Marilee Pierce Dunker.

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