To the parents whose daughter received a bible…
First of all, I’d like to thank you for allowing your daughter to come to my house for my weekly youth ministry. She really seems to be enjoying it, and I appreciate you trusting me with your girl, despite us not knowing each other at all. I wanted to make sure I contacted you about this gift I gave your girl last night, as I want to ensure my gift isn’t received with conflicting feelings. I picture your daughter excitedly showing you her new engraved bible, but what I can’t quite envision is your reaction. I think what I worry about most, is that you might be offended, angry, threatened, or even worse- feel violated in seeing this personalized bible in her hands.
I’m aware that your family does not go to church, or claim a specific faith. Your daughter told me so. I want to honor that, and surely not disrespect whatever views you may have about Christianity or any other religion. I can only envision how you responded when you saw the bible, perhaps perturbed at the very sight of it or maybe questioning the unusual rapid rate of this fast moving new opportunity for your girl. Maybe you are wondering who I am and what I’m really all about- and why you allowed your daughter to go with her best friend to my home group in the first place. You probably noticed her excitement in returning from her first attendance in the group last week, and I’m guessing you went with it. You trusted her best friend’s mom and probably saw no harm in it.
I fear you may wonder why after just two weeks of your daughter coming to my youth ministry, she would hold a new bible in her hands with her name on it. You may find it pushy, assuming, or even worse- you may think I am infiltrating your safe agnostic place and indoctrinating your daughter to be a holy roller, bible thumper, come-join the cult of Christianity- kind of born again girl. I can only guess what you are imaging right now, as you look at the bible she proudly handed over for you to see. You probably assume I am taking over your girl’s identity and therefore inching toward yours. Do you wish she never came? Have you already told her she won’t come back again?
Now you may be completely and thoroughly over it. A bible? With her name on it? Um… no. Just no. Do you feel I crossed the line? That I boldly stepped on your protective toes that border your family’s circumference? Do you think I went too far to take the time to buy her this gift and have her name engraved on it, when she doesn’t know a thing about Jesus and you honestly might not want her to? I could be all wrong assuming any of this. You may in fact be thrilled to see her enjoy a new experience and support her curiosity and freedom.
I am honestly anxious about your response, simply because I don’t know you. I’m especially afraid that you may perceive this gift as something much more than it is. It can be misconstrued because of the obvious, but even more because of the unknown. You don’t know me, just as I don’t know you. You have no idea the kind of youth leader I am, nor do you know the woman I am and the heart that drives my ministry. I desperately want you to know, so that perhaps you won’t be too upset with my gift or my guidance with your child.
By the way, I think she’s pretty fantastic.
When I heard she was coming to group, I was thrilled to meet her and I wanted to create an atmosphere where she would feel completely comfortable- no matter her faith. I hugged her upon entering my home and she engaged with the group like a pro, sharing things about herself and her life. Since the few boys who are in the group, were not able to make it- I decided to gear the discussion toward more specific issues girls face – good ol’ fashion DRAMA.
For almost two hours- each girl shared their struggles with peers and social situations at school.
Here’s what I want you to know…
I purposefully chose to not do a bible teaching during this group, because I did not want your daughter to feel uncomfortable the first time she came. Instead, I wanted her to bond with the other girls- because I’m really all about cultivating relationships.
Jesus was too.
At the end of the group, I shared a bit more about what we do in this ministry and my daughter chimed in explaining that we study the bible and pray for each other and talk about things going on in our lives. Your daughter nodded along as though she was cool with that. I asked her if she had a bible at home, and she seemed a bit vague with an answer. She stumbled a bit around her words as she fell on “I’m sure we do somewhere.” I told her if she was interested in having her own, I had a bunch of extra bibles and she could pick one from my stash. She politely dismissed the idea confirming she probably had one at home. She talked a little bit more about her family not really having a church or faith, and I was really happy she felt comfortable sharing all she did.
End of discussion.
I then went on to explain to the entire group, that as they all go through stages and phases of discovering who they are and where they fit in this world, that it is absolutely okay for them to question and wonder and doubt things about God and their faith. I told them that God loves them no matter where they are in their beliefs, and he wants them to pursue those questions, muscle through those doubts, and pray through those wonderings. He surely expects us all to seek answers and I promised the group that if they really search with a genuine open heart- in time they will find the Truth for themselves.
I closed the group in prayer.
As the group dispersed and adults were chatting and kids were gathering up their things, your daughter came to me and asked…
“Did you say you had some bibles?”
To which I replied, “Yes! Did you want to see them?”
We went downstairs to my stash – a variety of colors with creative covers to choose from, and she picked out the one she has now. I told her I like to have a bunch of bibles for kids that may want one, and that I enjoy getting them engraved for those who may want their bible personalized.
She smiled and seemed really excited about that idea.
So I agreed to do that for her and give it to her the following week.
This is how your daughter received an engraved bible.
I have been giving out bibles for a while now. I engrave them each time. There are kids I probably will never see again- that own a bible with their name on it. Some now along in their 20’s, some in their teens- many that weren’t Christians when I met them, ministered to them, loved them. Each time I handed over this gift, it was because I first asked and offered…
And they said yes.
What I love most about this, is that each and every time- there was excitement in their eyes. When they look at the Bible and see their name beautifully crafted on it- something shifts in their hearts. Transformation begins right then and there, as they take hold of something they don’t know much about, but sense it is quite remarkable. And for some, it is the first time I witness this new birth of what I like to call- Sacred Worth. They feel valued, important, and almost empowered by owning such an extraordinary Book. This book they have possibly only known about as an exclusive Holy text that is only meant for ‘others’ has now become their own. I believe right then and there, God’s Love takes seed.
Each and every time I think about and pray for those precious souls that somehow made it to my teen ministry, I feel a sense of joy and comfort that they own a bible. They maybe haven’t even opened it… Their faith may not have grown just yet, or maybe that precious book is buried in the bottom of their closet.
That’s okay. I rest assured- the Word of God is in their reach- When their hearts are ready for it. I consider my small job accomplished. This particular part I play in His Purpose.
So please know this gift was given as simply that. A gift. This engraved bible is for your daughter to have so that she can feel comfortable in our group of kids with their own bibles. It is for her to open and read when I refer to scripture in my lessons. It can be for her to explore on her own if she so desires. And perhaps, it might get lost under a pile of rubble in her bedroom, if only to be found years from now.
Just please know, I have no hidden intentions. No strings attached. No conditions.
In my group, or in my gift.
This is the basis of my mission, and ultimately the foundation of Christ’s message.
His outstretched hands reach all who will receive His Gift of Grace- It too, is free.
No hidden intentions. No strings attached. No conditions.
Above all, I want you to know that there is no gift offered that she will be forced to accept. No teaching, no lesson, no idea, no prayer. It will be completely up to her to receive them as her own.
And we will love her no matter her choice.