A few years ago, in Cambodia I had the privilege of visiting a ship that had docked in the local harbour with a cargo of Christian books for sale. You can imagine my excitement when I boarded and found a whole bookshelf filled with my books. I think the missionary colleague who was with me was just as excited because he began to call people over, showing them the books and introducing me as the author (somewhat to my embarrassment as a private person).
People took the time to look, even expressing interest in the books, but no one purchased. I wondered about this and noted the cost. Each book was selling for $4. Speaking to my missionary colleague, I asked how much the average pastor would make in a day. Thinking for a moment, he told me that the average daily salary was about $1. That meant a pastor would have to sacrifice four days wages for a single book.
In order to understand what was happening I did some mental calculations. A person working a minimum wage job where I live would make about $288 in four days. How many books would you buy if each one of them cost $288? Add to this the fact that this is the only money you have to feed and provide for your family. Even at $4 the books were more than these people could afford.
Each year I ship thousands of my books overseas to pastors and Christian workers who do not have the resources necessary to purchase them. Many of them have no Christian education and very little books in their library.
I don’t make money writing books. In fact, I have to trust the Lord for over $2,000 every month to give my books away free of charge. It doesn’t make sense from a financial or business point of view but the blessing this has been for brothers and sisters around the world has made it all worthwhile. Letter and emails such as these have been an encouragement to me:
“Thank you sir for sending your precious books to me. I have nothing to return but my thank you.”
“Oh, how do I thank you and the ministry for sending me these wonderful books. I do not know how to express my joys in receiving your books. You do not know what you have just done to me and my ministry. My prayers will not cease to mention your name to Him whenever I pray.”
“When I got your books, it drove me to my knees greatly overwhelmed with excitement. Thank you for the supply of great books. They are helping me to a deep relationship with God, a deep knowledge of his Word. It is becoming a cause to praise the living God from the very depths of my heart for he has provided me your sound books”
What more could I ask for as a simple writer? I won’t make a living from my books. I won’t ever have a best-selling book. What I do have is the knowledge that I have been called to write and God has been using that for his glory (even if I have to give them away). There may be few sales, but there could not be greater blessing.