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This is the opening part in a special Christian Chronicle project on Bible-related trends.

One boy’s Bible reading inspires church

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
— Matthew 4:4

Sharply dressed in a button-down shirt and V-neck sweater vest, the speaker stood at the front of the church, microphone in hand, and talked about what he had learned reading the Bible.
The entire Bible.
A hushed silence overtook the packed auditorium of the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, Ark., as Davis Burton spoke.
“I had no idea what was about to happen,” said Jerry Allison, a longtime member of the White Station Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn., who was visiting that day. “He presented perhaps the best synopsis of the Bible I have ever heard.”
The surprising part: Davis is only 9 years old. Yet the brown-haired boy with glasses delivered a sermon for the ages as he encouraged the crowd of nearly 1,000 people to enjoy the blessings of daily Bible reading during 2011.
“God speaks to us through the Bible, and what I think the Bible is trying to tell us is, it’s telling us how to live, and it’s helping us to know God better by telling us his characteristics,” said Davis, no hint of nervousness in his voice.
“One of the main characteristics the Bible tells us about is God’s love,” he added. “God loves us so much that he wants us to be his, follow him and worship him only.”
Over the next eight-plus minutes, the straight-A student spoke from memory as he shared what he had learned about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, Deborah, Saul, David, Solomon, Isaiah and other key figures of the Old Testament.
Then the son of Pleasant Valley members Jason and Amy Burton turned his attention to the New Testament.
“Jesus was born into the world, and he taught and told parables and did miracles so that we might believe in God and turn back to him,” said Davis, a Central Arkansas Christian Schools third-grader. “But that wasn’t all God had in store for his son. He wanted him to die on the cross for our sins. So that’s what Jesus did. He took all of our sins … so that we wouldn’t have to die for them. And then, to show his power over death, God raised his son back up from the grave.”
Through the Pleasant Valley church’s Project 4:4 — based on Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4 — roughly 20 percent of members read the entire Bible last year, missions minister Roger Pritchett said. “All of our adult Bible classes studied the previous week’s readings,” Pritchett said. “Many of the children’s classes followed the same general theme of the reading.”
Davis’ parents read through F. LaGard Smith’s “The Daily Bible,” while Davis used Karyn Henley’s “Day by Day Kid’s Bible.”
As 2011 began, many Churches of Christ across the nation urged members to make a renewed commitment to spending time in God’s Word each and every day.
In Houston, Michael Whitworth, pulpit minister of the Jersey Village Church of Christ, decided to read the entire Bible aloud — from Genesis through Revelation — in one sitting streamed live on the Internet.
The “Eat This Book!” marathon kicked off the congregation’s 2011 daily Bible reading initiative. Volunteers provided coffee, food and emotional support and filled in to give Whitworth short breaks.
“I ended up needing a little help so that I could sleep for an hour or so, but I completed the marathon in 75 hours and 37 minutes,” Whitworth said.
“The Lord greatly blessed our efforts,” he added. “One lady who was inspired to read her Bible as a result of the marathon has just been baptized.”

In North Carolina, the Wilkesboro Church of Christ uses a chronological plan to read the Bible, and members keep daily journals.
“It is great doing a group read and having everyone on the same page,” said Lisa Brewer, a Wilkesboro member whose husband, Greg, serves as a deacon. “Every time I read through a verse or a chapter or a book, I learn something new … but this particular pace seems to be having increased benefits and blessings.”
For nine years, the Fourth and Bois D’Arc Church of Christ in Pecos, Texas, has promoted daily Bible study and offered a variety of reading plans.
The Pecos church’s minister, Fred Dominguez, said he has completed a different English translation each of the last three years.
“It has been a wonderful exercise that helps me to better teach and preach God’s Word and to offer studied responses when asked about various translations,” Dominguez said.
“Lord willing, we’ll keep ‘reading through’ each year until the Lord calls us home.”
In Oklahoma, the Edmond Church of Christ has dubbed its 2011 daily Bible reading emphasis “Counting Verses, Changing Lives.”
“We’re hoping for 6 million Bible verses to be read this year by those of all ages,” senior minister Don Vinzant said.
Pat Shelbourne, a member of the College Hill Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas, said he has determined many times to read the Bible in one year.
Usually, though, he falls so far behind that he can’t catch up, so he simply quits, he said.
But this year he’s trying a different approach.
“I will read as much as I can and keep reading until I get it all done,” Shelbourne said. “It may take me two or three years, but I will keep a marker in my Bible as I go along. I still teach and study outside of this effort, but this way, if I live long enough, at least I can say I did it!”

Back at the Pleasant Valley church, 9-year-old Davis encouraged the church to think of the Bible as a movie.
“You wouldn’t rent a movie and go to scene selection and say that, ‘This part looks interesting; I’ll start here,’” he said. “Because then you don’t know who the characters are, what they’re doing and where they are. So just like you have to watch the whole movie to get the whole picture, you have to read through the whole Bible to see what God’s saying.”
In his free time, Davis plays youth soccer. He’s learning lines and preparing solos as Winthrop Paroo in Central Arkansas Christian Schools’ production of “The Music Man.”
Besides reading, he loves building with Legos, his mother said.
A video of his presentation on Bible reading has drawn thousands of hits on YouTube and The Christian Chronicle’s website.
“I predict great service in the Lord’s kingdom from this young man and pray for him a long life of continued spiritual growth,” said Allison, the visitor from Memphis.
Jason Burton said his son’s love for the Lord inspires him to be a better father and servant in God’s kingdom. Along with Davis, the Burtons have a 5-year-old daughter, Hannah, who read from a children’s Bible.
“It’s a very proud moment for us,” Amy Burton said of her son’s presentation, “but it’s very humbling to watch him stand there with such confidence, just being able to tell what God has ready for him to share with everybody.”
Davis said he enjoyed reading the Bible daily and read ahead if he had a busy day coming.
“It’s a good way to get to know God better and to know his characteristics and to really get into what he’s trying to tell us,” he told the Chronicle. “That’s what I enjoyed about it: getting to know God better.”

  • Feedback
    Just wonderful, praise to God in the highest for my little broher Davis!!! You are indeed the light and salt of the world. Thanks Father God, thanks Jesus, thanks HS, thanks saints!!!
    Yethay Ann Yeo
    Hillsong church, AOG
    Brisbane, Queensland
    February, 5 2013

    The Lord will certainly bless him and his family for his great love of our Lord.
    Well done, faithful servant.
    Calvary Chapel North Phoenix
    Phoenix, az
    November, 19 2012

    What a wonderful and powerful message and testimony coming from such a young man. Davis, you inspire more people than you’ll ever know to continue to read their bible and to grow closer to our loving God. Keep up the good work and God bless you and your family. Can I get the link sent back to this e-mail address. Thanks
    Alan Wood
    1st Baptist of Springfeild, Ga
    Savannah, Georgia
    November, 19 2012

    This is so beautiful and it help me remember some of the important things I had forgotten.
    Margaret Johnson
    Ft. Washington, Maryland
    October, 11 2011

    We are all equally capable of such as this 9 year old when we have the trust in God ‘such as this child.” God told us to come to Him as children and here we have a child who gets it all right now, as we all should. Don’t wait another minute, Church, get into the Word and get the world out of you. “Suffer not the little children to come unto Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Thank you Father for Your Word.
    Hope Saxton
    Calvary Community Church
    Port Hadlock, WA
    United States
    August, 9 2011

    The Davis Burton video has no audio except some little squeaky noises that sound like super fast forward. Can you fix this so I can share this video with my congregation?
    I appreciate all that you do!!
    God bless.
    Kathleen Norris
    Salina church of Christ
    Salina, KS
    July, 28 2011

    what a marvel,God is with him!
    Clay Phillips
    Shiloh Baptist
    Atwater, Ca.
    July, 18 2011

    I was absolutely inspired by Davis’ story and testimony. He has inspired me to become a better Bible reader and a better teacher to my children and husband.
    La Condra Parks
    Faulks Chapel Baptist Church
    Jeffersonville, GA
    July, 5 2011

    I just wanted to say that I think that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I was raised in the Church of Christ. I’ve not been involved with the church for many years. I go periodically and convince myself that my relationship with God is personal and it’s fine. But my life is not right. This little boy somehow inspired me to evaluate myself and let God back in. Thank you!!!!!!
    Heather Ferris
    Henderson, NV
    June, 10 2011

    This young boy, obviously has a God-given talent. He will surely bring many persons to Christ/God in his lifetime. He is a beacon of Hope.The Bible is indeed our mainstay as Christians. To read the Bible every day is a sure-fire way of walking in God’s footsteps and keeping us on the path to eternity with Him. Thank you, young man. Keep up the wonderful work.
    Mathilde Klassen
    Mary Immaculate Catholic Church
    Nelson, British Columbia
    May, 28 2011

    He is an outstanding young boy.
    It is thrilling to see someone
    that young, have the knowledge
    of the Bible that he does. His
    parents are to be commended.
    Imogene Frye
    First Baptist
    Lexington, Tn
    May, 1 2011

    This beautiful young man has inspired this lazy, Bible reader to go dust off one of my many Bibles and begin AGAIN!! Regardless of our denomination, this young man reminds us JESUS is all incompassing in ALL of our lives, regardless of what pews we sit at or at what Alter we listen at. Thank you for this heart lifting production.
    Maryanne Tallman
    Roman Catholic
    Reno, Nevada
    March, 29 2011

    I commend his parents for being an example for him to follow and for teaching him and encoraging him to read and study the Bible. Good Job!
    Church of Christ
    Stuttgart, AR
    March, 14 2011

    I don’t know how he did it – but he TOLD the Bible like it is!!! I really enjoyed Moses as I’ve always felt sorry for him. He had a tough job!!! Thanks for letting us all read/hear this and know God has many, many blessings for all of you.
    Rae J. Sampson
    1st Baptist Church
    New Boston, TX
    United States
    March, 7 2011

    I was touched by this young man, he also inspired me that all hope is not lost on generations to come as most of the world would have us believe. God has the plan and the blue print all we have to do is follow him. Faith, Hope & Love the greatest is Love as Jesus loved. Amen
    Alma, Ga
    February, 26 2011

    Grew up reading KJV, now LOVE The Message. It’s so easy to understand!
    Molly Woodall
    Lamar Avenue Church of Christ
    Paris, TX
    February, 22 2011

    This was teriffic especially for a 9 year old. I don’t think I could ever top that. His church family must be wonderful too.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Judy Harris
    Bible Church
    Coshocton, Ohio
    February, 19 2011

    EBCC watched the video of Davis during our Wednesday evening devotional. It was my honor to comment on the video and give honor to Davis, his parents and family and to Pleasant Valley Church of Christ. It’s wonderful to see bedrock understanding in such a young lad. Davis, I especially liked your “scene selection” illustration. You really made this old man think!!! Thank you!!!
    I apologize though because of telling the crowd that you are age 8. Oops.
    Jake Hance, our youth minister tried to correct me but I wouldn’t listen. I’m sorry, Jake! Anyway, I am so proud of Davis, his family and his church. All of us should be doing our 4:4 projects.
    I can only imagine what 4:4 graduates like Davis are going to be like 10 … 20 years from now.
    Bud Wranosky
    Enterprise Boulevard Church of Christ
    Lake Charles, LA
    February, 17 2011

    I PTL for him and his church.
    Am downloading a copy to share with many in this 10/40 nation… and to inspire many more to know God’s Word.
    Kindly keep me posted on such video clips.
    Blessings to all at your end, esp. Davis
    PJ, SEL
    February, 15 2011

    Amazing that the Bible was so self explanitory to this little boy. What an impressive testimony.
    Mary Strawn
    Arapaho Rd. Baptist Church
    Sachse, TX
    February, 14 2011

    God has some great plans for this young man. How wonderful to see and hear him tell “The Story”.
    Nancy Kidd
    Church of The Cross (Episcopal)
    Hilton Head, SC
    February, 10 2011

    Thank you for your desire to know God and His truth. Keep shining God’s light and God’s love.
    Linda Druyvestein
    Black Hills Church of Christ
    Pringle, SD
    February, 7 2011

    Shared with six people including two ministers. Thank you!
    Wynelle Main
    Burnt Hickory Church of Christ
    Marietta, GA
    February, 6 2011

    This was the most amazing example of a young man using his talents for the glory of God I have ever seen.Davis, I hope you are planning on being a minister of the Gospel because you have an exceptional talent that I am sure will be used in numerous ways. You have inspired me to continue daily bible reading.
    Pat Varner
    Hillcrest Church of Christ
    Abilene, Texas
    February, 4 2011

    I can relate Davis. I preached my first sermon at 8 because I was the only male at church that day. Your in for a great ride. Hang on!
    God is with you mighty warrior!
    Lynn Stringfellow
    Bay Area Church of Christ
    Brandon, Florida
    January, 31 2011

    i’m so glad the Lord is using you in a great way for him.to give the gospel of the Lord out ther to help so many young and older people.i have a 9 year old grandson,his mom,my daughter died and i’m raising him. i take him to church and he goes to a christian school and has to learn Bible verses and he has a test on the verses every week and then the teacher has 10 questions he has to know about the people of the Bible.we pray every night and read most of the time. pray for him is to serve the Lord always.his name is Alex.and davis i have 2 sons pray for them , raised under some of the greatest preachers in the world,but they need JESUS.pray God will bless you always and pray Alex will serve the Lord.
    lenoir, nc
    January, 31 2011

    Thanks for your information sir.
    belgaum, karnataka
    January, 29 2011

    Thank you for that.I was feeling pretty far away from God despite being a born againChristian.Nearly two years ago my husband left our family home with a young women we had boarding with us.I had been pursuaded by my husband to allow her to stay because she had had an inappropriate relationship with her father while her mother exerted a controlling and stifling relationship over the young woman.My sons now aged 24,18,and 15 watched on as their obvious relationship developed and all my efforts to have her leave were ignored.Then on the day she was to leave so did he,25.6.09
    I am a Christian.So is Peter.Now apparently so is the young woman .It takes a lot of self control to keep praying let alone read the bible Iasked for God’s Love.
    Pamela Heggie
    St Stephens Anglican Church
    Sydney, N.S.W
    January, 28 2011

    I’m encouraged to see a young boy like Davis who stood up before the congregation and preach the Lord’s words to them. I remember also the time when delivered my first sermon last July 18, 2010. It was a very nice feeling that it was hard for me to describe it. Keep it up, Davis! Encourage the brethren by doing good works that God wanted you to do for Him.
    Denn Reed B. Tuvera Jr
    Metro Manila Church of Christ
    Bacoor, Cavite
    January, 27 2011

Filed under: God's Story

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