I am the Bible.
I am also known as the Holy Bible, the Holy Scriptures, the Good Book, the Book of Books, the Word of God.
I live in Bolivia with Jose, and we’ve been together for quite a while.
Jose first grasped me in his tiny hands at the Compassion project, where he went weekdays after school. He watched with great interest as his teacher placed a cardboard box on a table. She used scissors to cut the tape securing the box, then began to pull out a stack of beautiful new books with black leather covers, setting them on the table next to the box one by one.
Next, Jose’s teacher called the children in his class up to the table one at a time, and finally it was his turn. She picked me up, Jose reverently pulled me close to his chest, and I’ve been his ever since.
I remember that first trip home from the project. Jose’s teen brother was waiting outside, leaning against a brick wall across a dirt road, when Jose came out of the building with his classmates. Seeing his brother, Jose sped up, carrying me under one arm. He held me up high with two hands when he got to his brother, showing off his new prize proudly.
His brother, hands in his pockets, gave a grudging acknowledgement, in the sullen way of teens, and hurried Jose home.
It was a long walk. Jose’s tiny palms were sweating all over my shiny new cover before long, as he half-ran to keep up with his brother’s long legs. Upon arriving home, I was placed under Jose’s pillow, while his older sister prepared beans and rice for dinner.
Jose’s parents arrived much later, on their shoes and pants and hands dust from the field where they had worked sunup to sundown. They clearly were too tired to read Jose’s new book that night.
Even when Jose couldn’t read, he often took me out from under his pillow and carefully flipped through my pages before returning me to my special place. Those days were fine, but when Jose learned to read, the pace picked up a bit.
Soon my pages were pored over slowly, carefully. I was brought to the project, and carried home again, over and over. Jose stored letters from his sponsor just inside my back cover, often finding verses in the letters, then underlining those verses on my pages. It was good to be used so often.
I recall the day Jose scratched out the words “GOD IS GOOD” in red ink on my pages’ edges. He was 13 years old and had spent the day at the project, praying and worshipping with his friends. He had felt down lately because there was trouble at home. His mother was having a very difficult time providing for the family. His dad had left the country years earlier to find work, and although Jose begged God for his return every day, Jose’s prayers went unanswered. It was like his father had disappeared forever.
But that evening, after the long walk home from the project, he was surprised to see a man sitting in front of his small home. It was his father! He couldn’t believe his eyes. After a joyful reunion, Jose went to bed feeling all was right in his world. He found a pen and inscribed me just before rolling over and falling asleep.
That was the last day of calm for Jose in a long while, though. After such a long absence, it was hard for his family to adjust to his father’s presence again. Soon there was fighting, yelling, hitting. Jose’s trips to the project became less frequent. Sometimes there would be four or five letters from his sponsor waiting for him by the time he finally attended the project again. And he rarely opened me to read.
Those were dark times for Jose. His father didn’t stay long, and when he left, Jose made the decision to leave school and join his mother and siblings in the fields. And I was tossed under the bed, dusty and forgotten.
Three years later, a hand pulled me from the dark and dirty space. It was Jose! He seemed tired, and clearly the years in the field had aged him more than I had expected.
The young man slowly flipped through my pages. He pulled out the stack of sponsor letters, and spent the evening reading through each one. Then he even spent some time reading my pages, falling asleep with me open at his side.
The next morning, I was tucked under Jose’s arm, making the familiar trip to the project once again. Jose still worked in the fields, but he worked less days, and spent some days at the project, and some nights at school.
It was an exciting time because I no longer was forgotten. Each night, my pages were turned, marked, read and read again.
And here I sit, years later, on a battered wooden table in Jose’s old project. Worn, tattered, but still showing my proud inscription, “GOD IS GOOD.” And of course, He is good!
In minutes, Jose will return, tuck me under his arm, and head into the project’s chapel, where he will deliver a message to his congregation. Parents and children from the community, just like him, now attending Jose’s old project, will listen to this message, be inspired by his message.
And they will have hope because the man who is preaching to them, the man who runs the project where their children attend, is a testament to what Compassion can do for their children. He is their pastor.
*All characters in this post are fictional, as this is written in response to a writing prompt provided by Compassion’s Bloggers. Please consider helping Compassion reach its goal of 3,160 children sponsored this month. We’re halfway there! You can sponsor a child by clicking here.