GREENVILLE, S.C. (Christian Examiner) – "I moved to the South and people go to church on Wednesday night and I don't get it," a man from New Jersey said to a Christian coworker.
The men went to lunch, and the Christian shared the Gospel as best he knew how.
"I know you're sincere and I can tell you believe what you say, but I don't understand what you're saying," said the man who had never been to church, and neither had his parents.
The Christian called on his pastor for reinforcement and Charles F. Boyd of Southside Fellowship Church in Greenville provided answers in a way the man understood.
At a second lunch, the transplanted Northerner asked questions and the pastor continued to relate in a way he could respond to the message.
In time, the memory of that conversation became "a book for parents disguised as a children's book," as Boyd describes it.
First published in 2006 as What God has Always Wanted: the Bible's Big Idea from Genesis to Revelation by Family Life Publishing in Little Rock, Ark., the book was re-released in 2013 as The Big Picture of What God has Always Wanted by B&H Publishing in Nashville, Tenn.
When the book was first published, there were known to be only two books that treated the Bible as one story. Today, Boyd has at least 30 on his bookshelves.
"I know God gave me this book," the pastor/author said. "At the time, nobody in the United States had talked about the Bible as one story. ... Somehow the Lord let me in on that wave."
His book – now a part of B&H's "Big Picture" series – starts with creation and in 15-to-20 read-aloud minutes, makes it to Revelation.
"I set it out in one fell swoop," Boyd told the Christian Examiner. "I had 20 to 25 people – Christian school teachers, my doctoral professor, pastors, theologians, children's teachers, English teachers – look at it. I wanted every word to be meaningful, impactful.
"My goal was to equip parents to share the gospel in a way children would understand," the pastor/author continued. "We always talk about the Bible as the story of God's redemption, but it wasn't redemption at the beginning. It was the story of God creating and calling to himself a people. ... After the fall, God had to redeem the people."
"The Big Picture of What God Always Wanted" helps children and their parents understand the simple Gospel message that God desires to live in friendship with the people He created, now and forever.
It's a book that would be a non-threatening yet gospel-driven gift to give to first-time visitors at a church, or to new parents on up through the parents of teens.
"I remember when I wrote it and my 18-year-old daughter read it for the first time," Boyd told the Examiner. "She told me, 'I don't think I ever understood the Bible's story before."
B&H, a Southern Baptist imprint of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, publishes about 30 books a year for children. Nationwide there are about 20 Christian publishers.
Yet The Big Picture of What God Always Wanted is unique among Christian children's books in that it tells the story from Genesis to Revelation in such a way that parents and children alike will be able to say, "Now I understand."
As Boyd wrote, God created people to have someone to love and be loved by, and when they made bad choices, He sent Jesus to pay the price so if we just believe His promises and trust that He will keep those promises, we can be God's friend and live forevermore."
The Big Picture of What God Always Wanted is available online and in bookstores nationwide.