I had been teaching for two weeks in the mountain village of Numba in the mountains of Papua, New Guinea. My wife, Nancy, and I had the privilege of working with Jim and Jaki Parlier, veteran missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. They had invested their lives in translating the New Testament into the Managalase language. During the years of their service, many indigenous churches were planted. In their concern to see the pastors of the region receive a degree of Bible training, they had organized a bi-annual Bible conference so that the central themes of Scripture could be carefully studied.
On the night before we were to depart, a Yam Feast was organized. Before we went to the village church, Jim said to me, “Ask for a pastor Haggai, and have a look at his Bible.” I knew this must be the moment I had been praying for. Though we were limited to bare essentials, I had brought a new leather bound Bible which I had used for the conference. My prayer was that God would guide me to the pastor to whom He wanted me to give this Bible. When I found Pastor Haggai at the feast, I asked to see his Bible. He brought me a small tattered Bible. Everything before Psalm 26 was missing and the book of Revelation was gone. Many pages were falling out and the print so small it was difficult to read in the dim light. Holding his Bible, I asked pastor Haggai if he would like to trade his Bible. At first, he was alarmed, thinking I wanted to take his Bible from him. I then held up my leather bound Bible, and asked if he would let me have his Bible if I gave him mine. His face lit up and he quickly reached out for the greatest gift in the world, the complete Word of God. Haggai told me later he had been led to faith in Christ in 1991, entering the ministry some years later. This partial copy was the only Bible he had ever owned.
Pastor Haggai and his tattered Bible illustrate why I am writing this book. Christians in the wealthy western world have an over-abundance of Christian literature. Conditions are the opposite for believers in the poor churches of the third world. I have visited many churches in South America, Africa, India, and Asia. Often, only the pastor has a Bible. In some cases, this may only be a New Testament. Bible study materials for most are out of the question. The resulting situation means that these pastors struggle to lead their congregations without the benefit of Bible school training, and are deprived of the costly study materials that would greatly enhance their understanding of the Word of God and bless their congregations.
It is to the need of these pastors and workers of the village churches of the third world that this volume is devoted. For this reason, it is written in simple, non-technical language. It will be translated and printed in the countries where it will be used. All copies will be distributed without cost. This has always been the policy of Basic Training Bible Ministries. It is my conviction that the church of the western world is a debtor to the grace of God to see that Christians of the poor church of the third world are provided such materials as necessary for the training of leaders, and the spiritual growth of individual believers. My prayer is that this simple work might add to that supply and, in some measure, meet that need.