When you pick a book, you’re not just reading words and punctuations – you’re travelling to places you have never been and meeting people you’ve never met before.
Many will tell you that a hunger for reading gnaws harder when you can’t find the right book. This is a hunger that mission workers Tony and Julia Mburu knew too well.
Biographies were a huge motivation for the couple during their discipleship training with SIM’s friends at the Kenyan organisation Mission Campaign Network (MCN).
Like hungry caterpillars, they devoured books such as The End of the Spear, For this Cross, I Will Kill You, and biographies of Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward and other brave mission workers.
These biographies, focused on taking the gospel to others and influenced the couple to become mission mobilisers, as the inspirational stories opened their eyes to God’s heart for saving the nations and their role in it.
From the outset of their ministry, they drew up lists of the best books they found, encouraging others to read them.
Many were dismayed and frustrated, however, by lack of access to these books. The couple therefore decided to source books for their friends, colleagues, and the people they were ministering to.
In 2013, they began selling books, soon discovering that selling to readers scattered around a country was not easy. As newlyweds setting out on life together, they did not have cash to rent premises, and they did not know a book supplier.
Their venture fizzled and their dream remaining untouched until 2020.
After they moved to Mombasa in 2017, a friend introduced them to a ministry supplying Christian books to booksellers and organisations in Kenya.
“The desire to get involved in bookselling was there, but we hadn’t fully grasped the logistics,” they said.
In early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic closed down the country for several weeks, causing job losses and pay cuts.
This also greatly affected the Mburus. Many of their supporters had little choice but to withdraw their financial contribution, while others significantly reduced theirs.
In no time, 40 per cent of their financial support had trickled away. They needed a fast solution, and the book idea was the first to come to mind.
People, now confined to their homes, had switched to shopping online, removing the previous obstacles of premises and distance.
Obtaining stock from a book supplier, they founded Bottomline Books in July 2020, with the goal of providing quality Christian books focused on discipleship and mission.
The name ‘bottomline’ is derived from the Kairos course’s training on bottom-line blessings; teaching that we are blessed to be a blessing – to spread the love of Christ.
Avoiding motivational and self-help books, Tony and Julia carefully select sound discipleship and missional books, biographies and biblical books for children.
Tony created a Facebook page and invited his friends to follow. His WhatsApp group has 196 participants and he uses the groups to market books, advertise new stock, and allow members to reserve books for purchase.
Tony takes photos of book covers to post with prices on WhatsApp and Facebook, where customers can order. Once payment has been made, the books are sent to a central pick-up point in various towns to be collected in person or delivered for a fee.
“Our goal is to build rich libraries in people’s homes, and we’re glad that we’re able to do that while augmenting our income,” he says.
Proceeds from book sales are used for MCN team ministry in Mombasa, to support other missionaries and for their own family needs.
By Mercy Kambura (This article first appeared in SIM’s AfriGo magazine)
- For perseverance and resourcefulness for many missionaries facing the loss of financial support during the pandemic.
- For new support channels to open for missionaries, ministries and churches so they may carry forward all God has called them to do.
- For readers to be transformed by the books newly available through BottomLine Books.