Richard Riehn of Eastern European Missions tells the story of exactly how Bibles were smuggled into the Communist Bloc in Germany in the 1960s and 70s - in, believe it or not, cowboy boots.
Riding a train was the only mode of transportation from West Germany to East Germany at the time, and soldiers would check IDs and ransack bags on the way across.
A prominent businessman who had business in the Bloc also helped smuggle Bibles into East Germany. The man was a devout Christian. He was on his way one day to the Bloc when the soldiers came in for their customary searches and his heart jumped up in his throat because he realized he had his personal Bible, not one of the smuggled ones, in with his regular bag.
The man was well-known, and some of the soldiers even knew him. They searched him and his bag and upon finding the Bible, one of the soldiers was greatly surprised.
"A respected businessman like you, and you read this TRASH?" he said as he threw the Bible out the train window.
The businessman was allowed to proceed, sans Bible. He was devastated. This was his personal Bible, it had handwritten notes all throughout, and while it just a Bible and he could get another one, everyone knows that personal Bibles are sometimes special. Although it had his name and address inside, it was probably lost for good.
Two years later, he was on the same train bound for the Bloc when someone returned the Bible to him. As it turns out, two little boys beside the train tracks had found the Bible that day, taken it back to their village, and started making copies for the entire village. They had been reading the Bible and baptizing one another for the last two years.
I think sometimes we underestimate the true, undiluted power of the Word of God. We underestimate what it can do. We don't need fancy preachers in high-dollar suits giving creative and interesting illustrations, we need the Word.
We also underestimate the saving power of the Gospel. The story itself cuts us to the heart - there's no need to add to that message.
This was a nice mid-week pickup for me. I hope it's the same for you.