I (Danica) had come to enjoy the wealth of resources that were available to me and my family in the United States. If I wanted to find a children’s book, Bible or devotional to disciple my kids, I had a world of choices to pick from. I loved to spend time reading reviews and selecting from the best resources and books out there. And with Amazon Prime, I could have it all on my doorstep, sometimes even the next day. And I could also head to my local library and find many of the resources as well.
Moving overseas has changed my perspective on all this. I have come to understand the value of resources and reading books from a new vantage point. Encouraging the church here with solid, Biblical teaching is our passion. And lately it has come out in “book form.” Let me explain.
We have realized since coming here, the difference in the amount of Christian books and resources written in Spanish. We live in a city with several universities and many educated people. Our friends are very interested in learning and growing in their knowledge of the Bible, theology, and biblical counseling. But because of Argentina’s mailing system, political red tape, and high taxes on imports, they can’t access many Christian resources.
We looked into shipping a small box of about four books from the States once, and the cost was astronomical! And even if a package can be shipped here, the import taxes to get it from the post office are absolutely ridiculous! And public libraries or Kindles are not really a thing here either.
Christian colleges and universities are rare. There are almost no elders/pastors who are paid full-time through their church; almost all elders/pastors are bi-vocational. These factors contribute to the fact that there are not as many academics who are writing books for the Spanish-speaking church here. A majority of the books that do exist in Spanish are translations brought from the United States. I’m not against translation, in fact, this is what is currently needed. But a book written in another language and culture definitely has a different flavor than one written from the cultural and linguistic perspective of a native speaker. So all in all, the Christian resource market in Argentina is pretty slim, especially in comparison to the resources in the United States.
As we have discovered these realities, we have started a fun informal ministry. We have a small Christian resource ¨lending library” (actually more like a few bookshelves) in our living room. As we have visitors come to visit us from the United States, they bring us books, and we are filling our bookshelves with Spanish books. We have books by Timothy Keller, Paul Washer, John Piper, John MacArthur, Randy Alcorn, and more!
We are excited about having people in our home on a regular basis for ministry. And it is so fun to share these resources with them! Whenever someone comes over, we like to introduce them to our shelves. We tell them that they are welcome to borrow whatever they like, as long as they return it in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes we give away the books as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions. We also ask that they come back to our house for another meal or get-together and discuss the book with us when they are finished with it. This is a good exercise for us with our Spanish discussion skills and as well with our hospitality and relationship building. People are so excited to see new options for biblical books that they have not had access to in the past. All around, a good deal for us all.
But really, why should the people in the church here read a solid Christian book and not just the Bible? I would be first to encourage them in Bible reading as their primary focus. But I would also be one of the first to encourage them to read other great Christian non-fiction works, books that encourage them in their walk with the Lord. Why? For one, because I am seeing first-hand the change that can happen through a book.
I have been able to have several conversations with my friends about how reading a particular book that they have borrowed from us has changed their thinking on something. One of my friends has told me how reading “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Plowman has revolutionized her home. She told me she is working on getting to her kid’s hearts and discipling them in their home. Another friend has told me that reading a John Piper book on theology has deeply encouraged her and changed some of her thoughts about what God is like. This is only the start of conversations about where the Holy Spirit has been working in people’s hearts here. We are looking forward to getting together with many of them again to discuss their borrowed books. It’s exciting!
So all that to say, if you have a chance, enjoy the resources God has given you in English. And when you think about it, pray for more quality Biblical resources to be published in Spanish. And for more Christian writers to write in Spanish. The church here would be very blessed through your prayers! And come and visit us with books for our library!!! Whenever a visitor comes to Argentina, we ask them to bring books with them in their luggage. The invitation is open. We have space to house you and a ministry to experience with you! Come on down!