Dr. Deborah Eisenhut, MD, FACS
My father was a journalist. Our home was full of books. When I was a tiny child, my family purchased an annual library card for the public library in a nearby city. Each week, we visited that library and carted away a basketful of books. I also checked out books from our well-stocked church library. When I began attending school, I took home books from the school library. And, because we lived in a rural area, my family qualified to receive mail-order books from the state library. I would mail in slips requesting specific books, and would send in ‘topic’ slips on which I listed my age and a subject of interest—minerals, railroads, cooking, etc. A week later, a package of age-appropriate books would magically appear in our mailbox. It was always exciting to tear open the parcel to see what the lovely, patient state librarians had sent me. My father returned them on the way to work in town.
One day my father was called to the local post office. I had ordered so many books from the state library that they would not fit into our mailbox. In the future, I had to be sure to only order an amount of books that our rural mailbox would hold! I usually had four to five books ‘going’ at one time and devoured them. I continue to read widely. I have never lacked for books either for my spiritual growth or simply for my reading pleasure and to expand my world.
Now, as a missionary in Africa, I rarely see books in typical African homes. Occasionally, I see one or two tattered volumes. Maybe a comic book, or a magazine, well-read and falling apart. I think of the easy availability of books in my upbringing and compare that to what I see here. Africans can’t access books easily, either because they can’t afford them or because they are not available. Even Bibles are difficult to get. Many homes don’t have one.
Our God is a literary God. He has chosen to reveal Himself in His written Word. He wants us to be informed. In Romans 10:17 we read, ‘So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.’ Salvation comes through hearing the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation with God in Jesus. And we learn to know God and exercise faith by studying the Word of God. Only when we know our Scriptures well can we mature in reflecting God’s character. It is very difficult for believers to grow without reading the Bible in their own language and without written materials for discipleship. This is why the ministry of Synergie Francophone (SF) is so vital. Not only do people in French-speaking countries need Bibles in French, but they also need books in French on spiritual formation to help them grow in their faith. These books need to be affordable. Synergie Francophone meets these needs.
My hope is that one day I will walk into a typical African home and see bookshelves filled with books. I want African children to have easy access to books and libraries as I did. Christians should have many books for their own discipleship and materials for sharing the good news of God’s love with others. Meanwhile, I pray for the ministry of Synergie Francophone as it continues to take bold steps towards reaching this goal for the French-speaking peoples of the world.
Dr. Deborah Eisenhut, MD, FACS, serves as a Faculty Surgeon at Mbingo Baptist Hospital with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Loma Linda University and has practiced surgery in hospitals in Oregon (USA), Pakistan, Liberia, Cameroon, and other countries.