Imagine a children’s picture book where readers learn that a slave trader, converted to Christ on stormy seas, composed “the best loved hymn of the Christian faith.” Or that a priest, kidnapped by pirates and banished to Ireland, baptized “thousands of pagans, from paupers to princes.”

The Church History ABCs, written by Steve Nichols and illustrated by Ned Bustard, both members of PCA churches, teaches young readers that, “A is for apricot, apple, and Augustine—Africa’s ancient bishop;” that “E is for eggs, elephants, and Jonathan Edwards;” and that “T is for turban, triangle, and Tertullian, ancient theologian.”

The idea came to Nichols—a church historian and professor at Lancaster College (Pa.)—during a Sunday service. He still has the bulletin, he says, where he first jotted down the alphabet along with a rough list of corresponding names.

Bustard, who’s illustrated home school textbooks, was eager to be a part of the project. “I’ve always wanted to illustrate kids’ books,” he says, “and I’ve been interested in church history for as long as I can remember.”

But there aren’t a lot of church history buffs in the world, Bustard concedes. “We haven’t had anyone read the book yet without saying they learned something.”

The ultimate goal, he continues, is for kids to, “read this book and see themselves as part of church history; to understand that this is their story, this is their family, that they are spiritually descended from all these great people. We want them to understand that their pastors, parents, and Sunday school teachers are all part of this big story that God is still writing.”

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