The Extended Family

Here in the U.S., it’s easy to believe that the Bible is the most-printed book in the world: there are a couple dozen versions in any Barnes & Noble you walk into, they’re tucked in hotel nightstands, and people literally hand them to us for free sometimes. To some in the States, Bibles are so ubiquitous it’s annoying.

The opposite is true in Ethiopia.

Bibles in Amharic are rare—so rare, in fact, that some Ethiopian pastors don’t even own full copies of the Bible! Instead, they each have copies of individual books of the Bible that they study and preach through, one at a time. So when one pastor is done with Luke, for example, he’ll pass it on to another pastor or trade with him for the copy of Romans he’s been using.

One pastor had to wait at the airport in Addis Ababa last week for a shipment of Bibles because his name wasn’t spelled on the shipment manifest the exact way it was spelled on his I.D. (English spellings of Amharic names are rarely consistent), and so the airline wouldn’t release the Bibles to him, even though he was in the intended recipient. So the pastor waited for three days at the airport. Bottom line, he was not going to leave without the Bibles.

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