A carpenter making his own tools

A carpenter making his own tools is an explanation of why I, Pastor-Missionary David Cox write my own material.

While I was studying in Bible College to become a missionary, I began working construction with a Christian friend, Rick Lindsay. While I had helped my dad on various projects around our house, various times crawling under the crawlspace of the house with him to help “hold the flashlight”, I slowly learned a few things about construction.

I have always been a good student, and I saw some books on construction, electrical wiring, plumbing, framing, etc. I buy them and studied them. When I began working, I used that knowledge to help me become “needed”, doing whatever Rick asked me to do. If I didn’t know how, I read up, and I was always friendly with plumbers and electricians to watch and ask how they were doing their jobs, so I could learn.

In one occasion, I read about the “carpenters of old.” A carpenter’s apprentice began his career making the tools that he would use during the rest of his life. He had to go into some metallurgy and other sciences in order to make quality tools. But I always admired the idea of bootstrapping yourself in your profession. In other words, you make what you need to do the job you are doing.

Once on the missionary field of Mexico, we had need of children’s material. I went to the nearest Christian bookstore to buy some. I didn’t like what I found. Most all of it used a liberal version of the Spanish Bible that Pentecostals liked, and the main content of the classes simply missed the target in my estimation. I have an undergraduate degree in Christian Missions, Greek minor, a masters degree in Bible, and a masters degree in Administration and Supervision of Christian Schools. On a Bible level the material was bordering on heretical, and on an educational level, it was poorly implemented to reach kids in my opinion.

But since I had my hands full with preaching, I had to use something. I bought the best I deemed good, and we went with that. But I was very dissatisfied.

When I came to Mexico, I had to go to language school. I attended a Mexican pastor’s church, and became good friends with Brother Paredes. He was a humble man of little biblical studies, but he was working hard at the church.

In those days, there was no such thing as an Internet that I knew of (circa 1986), and computers were just taking off. We only used paper and ink copies of Christian reference books. I exhorted Pastor Paredes to buy some to use in his studies. I had a lot, but in English. Alas, he knew no English and had no money available to purchase books. One single commentary on Isaiah in Spanish at that cost him a month’s salary. He pleaded with me to find some way to help him and others like him.

In those days, a typical computer had a hard disk of 20 megabytes, and that was expensive. He found a hand-me-down computer, which was just a toy to play video games with. But over time, I was able to first find a few doctrinal good books in Spanish and I had my own teachings which I also translated into Spanish. I remember making a small 8-page booklet on Speaking in tongues. I typed it, photocopied it, and then used the cut-and-paste method that they used years before in newspaper publishing. Furthermore, I was on my public high school newspaper team, and we regularly got all the articles typeset, and then we had to paste it up on special sheets to send to the printers. So I was familiar with that process. What I made was essentially a mini-newspaper of 8 pages but the size of a letter size piece of paper.

Over the years, I found that a lot of my people would fall asleep in my sermons, and I used everything that I could to keep them awake. I made interesting stories, illustrations, I yelled at times and beat the pulpit. But when we studied what I had already made into sheets and a little booklet, they would read that when bored or tired. I found that I could at least keep them awake using a printed sermon, which I handed out to them before the sermon started.

Then I played around in Microsoft Word software, and decided that if I could get the material into a two-page format, one page on the front, and another on the reverse side, that I could print them easily. At first, I printed them on 1 piece of paper and then took them to a photocopy shop. But with time, I discovered recharging an ink cartridge and did that. More recently in like the last 15 years, I found Epson printers which has a way to directly recharge the ink in ink tanks.