A Bible Society supporter reveals her first encounter with the Bible – and why she’s committed to passing Scripture on to the next generation.
More than 70 years on, Brenda Dainton can still remember the first time she heard the Bible. And it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s been shaping her life ever since.
‘I was at primary school and a teacher used to read the Bible to us. I still remember hearing the story of the woman at the temple who put in two small coins, and gave more than anybody else,’ said Brenda. ‘That really captured my imagination. I liked the idea of giving everything to the Lord.’
Brenda grew up in a crowded three-bedroom house in Tottenham, north London, with her mother, father and seven brothers and sisters. They weren’t a church-going family, and there was little regard for religious activity. So when Brenda, intrigued by the story she’d heard at school, asked for a Bible for her 10th birthday, her parents were astonished.
‘They thought they had a religious maniac on their hands,’ laughed Brenda. ‘I misunderstood their reaction, and thought I’d asked for something terribly expensive – so never said any more about it.’
I love the Bible because God’s in it
But when the day dawned, Brenda received a carefully-wrapped Bible from her sister, and reading it soon became part of life. ‘I took it on holiday, I shared it with my younger siblings, and I read it all the way through for the first time when I was 15,’ said Brenda. ‘I just always thought of it as something precious.’
Aged 10, Brenda started attending Sunday school at the local Baptist church, taking her six-year-old sister and baby brother along with her.
‘We arrived on the first day – we were late – and entered a big hall absolutely full of children singing. As we watched, I decided I was going to like it there,’ added Brenda.
She began going to the morning services aged 16 and, later that year – despite being terrified of putting her head under water – Brenda was baptised.
Because I love the Bible, I want other people to love it too
In the six decades that have elapsed, Brenda has been a teacher, a supervisor at a London department store, a church deacon and a women’s support worker for a Christian fellowship. She cared for her elderly mother for four years, has been proposed to several times (she always declined) and was flooded out of the first home she bought. She lost six of her siblings to a genetic disorder, and has become an auntie, a great-auntie, and a great-great auntie.
But through all the ups and downs, Brenda says Scripture has kept her going: ‘I love the Bible because God’s in it. God speaks to us and reveals himself through the Bible, and he also reveals us. I don’t need any other book if I have the Bible; I read through it every year.’
It’s this passion for Scripture that prompted Brenda, recently, to make a commitment to leave a legacy to Bible Society in her will.
I can’t go to China or wherever and hand out Bibles, but I can give money for this work to be done
‘Because I love the Bible, I want other people to love it too,’ she said simply. ‘Everybody has a right to have God’s word, to be taught how to read it and engage with it. I can’t go to China or wherever and hand out Bibles, but I can give money for this work to be done.’
Brenda has made arrangements to split her estate equally between five charities – and it seems her decision completes a full circle back to that first encounter with Scripture at school. Brenda said, ‘I gave my life to God when I became a Christian, so this house belongs to him and everything in it.’
The story of the widow’s offering, that so profoundly resonated with Brenda as a child, has shaped her whole approach to her life and possessions. Now, her gift will pass on the Bible’s stories to future generations, ensuring more young people have the opportunity to hear Scripture.
To find our more about leaving a legacy to Bible Society, please contact our legacy advisor, Howard Barker, who is very happy to guide you through the process and have answer any questions you might have. You can contact Howard by calling 01793 418222 or by sending him an email.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 edition of Word in Action. Subscribe for free to get a copy of Word In Action delivered to your door three times a year.
Author: Bible Society, 17 October 2016 (Last updated: 12 July 2021)