They did not know where to go to be safe, so they decided to remain hidden and watch the village. It was clean and neat, not like the villages on the other islands where the men had been stationed. The people who were in the village were clean, too.
Finally one of the men said, “Let’s go in and give ourselves up. We’ll die if we stay in the jungle.”
When they walked into the village, the natives came to meet them, but not with clubs or guns. They came smiling. They greeted the fliers and took them to a clean house. They gave them food to eat, and then the natives showed the men the Book.
How happy the fliers were when they saw the Book! They were not afraid any more. They could trust these people who loved the Book. The natives were almost like brothers to the aviators, as they fed and cared for them. After days of planning and waiting, the natives helped them to reach their own forces again.
What was this wonderful Book that turned wild savages into kind people? It was a Book that is very precious; it is called the Bible. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, even before Columbus discovered America, people loved this Book. At that time only a few people had a copy of the Bible, for it was all written by hand, copied letter by letter. There were so few copies of the Bible that only a small number of people ever had the opportunity to read it.
People paid a great deal just for the privilege of coming to the house of someone who owned a Bible in order to read it. A farmer who heard that someone had a Bible, gave him a large load of hay for permission to read it for an hour each day.
The people who paid so much just to read the Bible actually risked their lives when they read it. Soldiers went through the towns and country looking for the
Bible. If anyone was found with one in his home, he would be put in prison or even killed, and the Bible would be burned up. Even though it was so dangerous to be caught, people continued to read the Bible in secret places and in their homes with the shades tightly shut.
In the front of an old Bible this prayer was written: “God grant us to know and to keep well the Holy Writ and to suffer joyfully some pain for it at last.” People who read the Bible really knew what pain was because they were hunted like wild animals and had to live in lonely mountain valleys and in caves. Many who were caught lost their lives. After hundreds of years a man named Gutenberg found a way to produce books on a printing press. The first book he printed was the Bible, but people were still forbidden to read it. All the copies that could be found were burned.
Some good men who loved the Bible went about the country as peddlers, selling needles, pins, buttons and cloth and secretly carrying copies of the Bible with them. When they came to a home where people were hungry to hear the Bible read, they would bring out a copy of it and read it to them. Sometimes they would leave a Bible with the family, and they would share it with others.
A lady who had bought a Bible from one of the peddlers was in the kitchen
one day baking bread. A neighbor came running to her house and told her that the king’s soldiers were coming. “Hide your Bible,” she said. The lady looked for a good hiding place and she suddenly thought about the bread sitting on the table. She quickly wrapped the Bible and hid it in an unbaked loaf. When the soldiers came to her house they looked and looked but did not find the Bible.
In most countries today people are free to read the Bible, although in some
places it is difficult to get a copy. Here in America and many other countries too, anyone who wants a copy may buy one in almost every bookstore. You will want to read this precious Book that so many people have loved. The next lesson is a story from the Bible. It is a story about God’s great clock.