The Malta Evangelical Library started on very modest lines. Actually it started as a tiny concept in the mind of a local evangelical pastor, Paul Mizzi, who is a firm believer in literature evangelism. Knowing how the Holy Spirit does use good Christian books both to convert and also to strengthen believers in their faith and walk, he had since the mid-eighties taken up the custom to lend his own books to interested people. Things developed this way for many years, until a further idea came to mind. He wrote letters to different Christian organizations, publishing houses and churches to make his desire to start a Christian library in Malta, which, as far as is known, would be the first of its kind in this country. The response was good and sometimes surprising. The Evangelical Library in London, for instance, was very generous with us in sending over large quantities of books. The Banner of Truth Trust also responded by sending us a good selection of their own titles, which are always appreciated by conservation Christians.
With a quantity of books coming in, Paul had to build some shelving in his own basement to display the books and make them available to the public. He started cataloguing the books and advertising their availabiltiy by word of mouth, especially to other churches. Some people came over on purpose to have a look; books started to go out at a greater rate.
However, the place was far from ideal. Finally, we decided to dedicate the entrance of our church building at Sta. Venera as the new premises for our library, now called the Malta Evangelical Library. A brother in our church, Thomas, whose job before retirement was as a joiner, built us the shelves, which can accomodate thousands of titles.
Andrè Camilleri, another brother, was appointed to help with the library, seeing that he showed a keen interest in the library, and out of his own initiative bought some software for the proper registration and cataloguing of the books. Later on, his wife Miriam pitched in, assisting him in every way possible. They are still in the process of cataloguing the books; it takes a long time and a lot of patience. But the library is always taking shape, and although it is not yet officially open, books are being borrowed. There is still space available on the shelves, but as a resource, the library is fulfilling its function in providing sound literature both for believers and unbelievers.
Interestingly enough, the library includes a few evangelistic books in Maltese, either translated or original. Christian literature in Maltese is very limited. Pastor Paul did most of the translations and his brother, Dr. Joe Mizzi, a paediatrician, wrote a book about the gospel with a Roman Catholic readership in mind, since Malta is largely Catholic in population. Such books are also available, and since we have a quantity of them, most of the time are given away for free to seekers.
Although the Maltese people are not really strong in reading, yet the library definitely has its place and is already playing an important role in reaching to the lost and discipling others, according to the mandate given us in the Great Commission. The challenges are great, but the opportunities are even greater. And while we have freedom of speech, we certainly want to make the best use of the modern spirit of toleration to reach our nation for Christ through various means: street evangelism, tracting, personal witnessing, teaching, preaching, radio programmes, websites on the internet, and so on. The Malta Evangelical Library is also instrumental to make Christ known in all his grace and glory.