LifeWay Christian Stores is closing all its stores and converting to an online-only retailer.

By Lisa Angle

Angle taught in both Franklin County and Henry County. She lives in Rocky Mount.

Yesterday I was stunned when I drove into the parking lot of our LifeWay Christian bookstore in Roanoke, Virginia, only to be greeted by huge banners announcing a going out of business sale. I tried to collect my thoughts and my tears as I walked into the store as a flood of both were pouring in at the same time. My immediate reaction was what a great loss to our entire community that we would lose another Christian bookstore, and then I felt a great personal loss, as the store has been such a huge part of my spiritual life. It has provided resources like amazing praise and worship CDs — everybody from Israel Houghton, Cece Winans, Natalie Grant, Hi111song, The Martins, Janet Paschal and The Gaithers — who have “ridden with me” (if BeBe Rexa and Florida Georgia will allow) and have been there at moments which we will call divine, if you understand, more times than this article allows time to recount.

Next, books by spiritual mentors, such as Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, T.D. Jakes, Juanita Bynum, Max Lucado, Sheri Rose Shepherd, Women of Faith, John and Lisa Bevere, Jentzen Franklin, and Rod Parsley, just to name a very few, who have forever changed me. If I do not have the chance to sit with these men and women of God on this side of Heaven to discuss how their writings, Bible studies, and music have made me better; I look forward to doing so at my table in eternity. The loss of Lifeway and having the chance to actually peruse their books/studies in person in a poignant loss.

In addition to these aforesaid life-changing books and CD’s, the Bible itself, the undeniable Word of God, has been, and is, not only a mainstay for me, but has also been a gift to many people I know. For this reason alone, being able to stand and hold a Bible — to look at the text itself, as well as the study features, is one that cannot be duplicated with a computer — no matter how great the virtual features are. I am not ignorant of the wonders of our online society and appreciate all that technology can do for us, but sometimes you just want to hold something in your hands and look through it before you purchase it — a BIBLE especially. This makes Lifeway store (including the ones in Richmond and the Carolinas, also my dear friends), and all Christian bookstores so important. They are not just stores; they are a presence in our communities spreading the immutable Word of God.

Not only the Bible, but also other items, such as gorgeous paintings, jewelry and clothing which put scripture right in front of not only my eyes, but also in front of the eyes of my friends and family, who have received them from me over the years, have helped make learning the Word of God easy and beautiful. In addition, the loss of Christian teaching resources readily available and the ability to spend hours sitting and tacitly searching for just the right materials for a Sunday School class, Bible study/L.O.R.D .group, Women’s group, Choir, or church cannot be measured.

I truly am the “least of these,” and ask you not to reflect this back on my husband, the Mayor of Rocky Mount, or on the mayor’s office, in any way, as I am speaking on my own behalf, and not for any political reason, or gain. My heart; however, was so broken over seeing another business close, I could not remain silent. This has happened too many times when wonderful businesses of all types have been lost to us because of a lack of traffic, and we need our brick and mortar enterprises in this country. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to remain silent.” Although I do not think, in this particular case, anyone is evil; sometimes we must speak up for what is good and for God. Many would say I am the last one who should, or would, do so, as I said, but if not me and you, then who?

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