"It is so difficult to explain good news to people," said Glen.
On this afternoon he was not in his prophecy corner or at the coffee table, but standing at a shelf containing ministry books--some of the most requested books at the Oak Street Bible Shop.
"You can show a person the most wonderful promises and facts in the Bible, but there is a barrier that prevents the good news message from getting through."
"It's too good to be true. that's what a lot of people say," said Joy from the back room.
Gary looked thoughtful. He was setting up the type on his Bible imprinter to emboss a name on the cover of a pocket New Testament. When he had the name right he threaded in some silver tape and turned on the machine to heat up. "Silver on blue," he smiled, "that will look nice."
"Trouble is," said Joy as she climbed onto her stool, "a lot of good looking Bibles and Testaments look nice, but they don't get read."
Sue turned away from the shelf of children's books she was arranging. "People are scared of the Bible. That's what I think. The world looks so fun, but for a lot of people religion is a real downturn."
"Religion is a turnoff, or whatever you called it," said Glen. "I know it was for me. Most of it still is. But the Bible--that's different! But it is so sad you can't get the Good News message to a person who needs to hear it."
"Gospel means 'good news,'" said Sue.
Gary shared a memory. "I was visiting with my aunt and uncle, one summer. My Uncle Frank was usually a happy man. He would sit in the living room in the afternoon and listen to music on the radio and smile and hum along with it.
"But he had a long bout of illness, including surgery. When he came home from the hospital, he had changed. My aunt worried about him and told the doctor he was not like he used to be.
"Doctor told her there was nothing physically wrong with my uncle. His operation was a success. "‘For some reason he is depressed,’ said the doctor, ‘but the cause is not organic.’
"So the radio in the living room was not turned on. My uncle would sit and stare out the window, but not really looking at anything. Then on the last day of my visit the mailman delivered an envelope from the medical insurance company.
"My aunt was sitting at the kitchen table reading aloud all the items and what they cost. She went on and on, and my uncle in the other room listened and said nothing. He just looked more and more depressed. I don't remember exactly, but the whole bill was about fifty thousand dollars.
"My aunt put the paper on a little rack on the kitchen wall. She poured out a glass of iced tea and took it to my uncle in the living room. ‘Isn't it wonderful, Frank, that you got that plan?’ she said, ‘I mean to pay for all those bills.’
"My uncle turned around and said, ‘What! Paid for?’
"Then it hit her. All that time he had been brooding, thinking they could lose their house or something, over that huge medical bill.
"I can remember all the yelling. They were a very emotional family. Some of them were laughing. Some of them cried when my aunt said, ‘Bless his heart, he didn't know the bills were taken care of!’
"When my parents came to pick me up, the radio was on again. There was a guy who used to bow a bass fiddle and hum along with it, like one voice. My uncle was listening to him, tapping his foot and as happy as he could be."
Glen turned to Gary. "Now that's just what I was looking for--a wonderful illustration and a true story too!"
Joy was touched, thinking of the old man agonizing over a bill already paid for. "Think of how many poor souls go around carrying a load that they could put down as soon as they heard that their sins were already paid for by Jesus."
"Too bad we can't have a contract and send it through the mail." Gary pretended to write on a piece of paper.
Dear Sir or Madam,
You have incurred the following debt because of sin. The penalty is death.
PAID FOR: by Jesus of Nazareth
Place: On a hill in Jerusalem
Time: almost 2,000 years ago
"That's right," said Joy, "If you would read the good news and believe it, you would be happy too."
"Of course, there is such a contract,” said Glen.
Sue turned to Gary. "You know, your uncle's insurance? I wonder if it was Blue CROSS?”