I grew up with one Bible in my household. It was a children’s storybook Bible. Featuring over a hundred stories from the Old and New Testaments, it was my only look at the Word of God. It had pictures that had been illustrated by children around the world paired with a short paragraph of text that summarized the story of each specific passage. That version of the Bible was my only way to God’s Word.
I do not know how we got this Bible or who gave it to my parents. But I am so thankful I was able to have this connection. For kids whose parents are in the growing numbers of the “nones,” a children’s Bible can be a gateway into sharing the Gospel and showing that there is hope in a frightening world.
Sparks the Interest
As a kid who didn’t know anything about the Bible, I was intrigued with the idea that there was more to the Bible, that these stories were a part of something bigger. And I wanted to know what that was. So I would read this children’s Bible over and over again trying to learn something new. I wanted to know why these stories mattered and why they were chosen to be included in this storybook Bible.
Because I knew the stories were a part of something bigger and because they included passages that talked about the Church, I felt like this was something I should be involved in. They also included stories about Baptism, prayer, and Communion. Basically, because of this storybook Bible, I learned of these unique practices that Christians were to do.
I was an anxious child. Especially at night. I would stay up for hour and hours because I was afraid that if I went to sleep, I might not wake up. I knew that people died, but I didn’t know if there was anything beyond that. I worked myself up concerned that I would get bitten by a rattlesnake (despite Michigan not being a natural habitat for them), that I would be kidnapped, or that ghouls would off me if I had one limb out of the covers.
But I would read a story from the Bible before I went to sleep, and I would feel peaceful. While reading, I learned that there was a God in control of it all. I learned that there was a God who created me, is present with me, and loves me. Even though it would be years before the Holy Spirit’s work would get me to recognize that this was actually truth, at that time, the idea of Jesus and His work on earth was enough for me to feel safe and at peace. I can't imagine what my anxiety levels would have been like if I had to deal and process what children these days are being asked to deal with. They need true peace more than ever.
Allows for Recognition
This is a piece that comes into the puzzle when these students are actually in a church building—again or for the first time. Whether it’s for VBS, a youth event, or (hopefully) a service, kids may have already seen some of the stories that may be presented or discussed in their storybook Bible. This earlier knowledge of the stories helps keep children from feeling overwhelmed by everything new they experience. It helps anchor children to something they are familiar with and allows them to make connections to something that might otherwise feel foreign and frightening.
For me, church services, and even church events, were nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what to expect or much about the Bible before I became involved in a church. Having a small knowledge of Bible stories helped immensely to ease the “newness” of it all. Because I had some understanding of the full story of Jesus’ life and death, during the start of my involvement with church, it was easier to understand what the pastor/youth leader/other friends were saying about what Jesus means for a sinful world.
For your next church picnic, VBS, or community event, consider giving out a storybook Bible to every child or have one to give away as a prize. You never know how God might use it. God promises to work through His Word, and a Bible like this is a place He can work.
The New Testament presented for children to know the work of their Savior.