The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith

The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith

by Stephen J. Nichols, Ned Bustard


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This book follows the alphabet as it introduces parents and children to twenty-six pillars of the Christian faith. Whimsical, full-color illustrations and engaging prose teach church history in a fun and creative way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433514722
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 06/14/2010
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 12.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series and also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.

Ned Bustard (BA, Millersville University) is a graphic designer, author, illustrator, art gallery director, and printmaker. He owns the design firm World's End Images, and is also the creative director for Square Halo Books, Inc. He is the designer for Christians in the Visual Arts. Ned and his wife, Leslie, have three daughters.

Read an Excerpt



A is for apricot, apple, and Augustine — Africa's ancient bishop

When I was a young boy, I took some pears that did not belong to me. I did not want the pears; I just enjoyed doing wrong. But God loved me and Christ died to forgive all my sin. Years later when I was serving as a bishop, I wrote two famous books. And I worked hard to remind the church that God loves us before we love him.


B is for boat, berries, and Anne Bradstreet, America's first bard

I was born in England. I would spend my days reading books, especially poetry. Because we weren't free to practice our faith, we boarded a large boat bound for Boston. My father was the governor of the colony and later my husband was, too. We had a very busy house. At night when it was quiet I would write my poetry. I wrote about kings and queens and nature and about my family. I also wrote about trusting God even during hard times — like when my house burned down. They call me a "bard." That is a fancy word for "poet." I just wanted to use my gift to serve and glorify God.


C is for catfish, castle, and John Calvin, champion Reformer

I grew up in France and went to college in Paris, a big city with big cathedrals. I was only 14, and I was not very interested in church or in God. Then God captured my heart and made me his child. I left France for Switzerland — but I never learned to yodel. I ended up at the city of Geneva. I taught people all about God's creation, all about Christ's death on the cross, and all about becoming good and caring citizens. We sent missionaries across the border into France and even across the seas to Brazil. I wrote many books. In one of them I chimed, "Every blade of grass and every color in this world is intended to make us rejoice in God."


D is for door, drawing, and John Donne

I lived in England during the time of the Reformation. England is a really big island. I once said, "No man is an island." We all depend on each other. I went to Cambridge for study, but I spent most of my time outdoors writing poetry. Then I moved to London. I would walk across the bridges at night and write even more poems. During the day, I was a lawyer and was soon elected a member of Parliament. Finally, when I was forty-five years old I became a pastor. My wife and I had a dozen — that's twelve — kids. People like to read my poems, saying they're quite dramatic. My favorite poems were my Devotions. In one of them I said, "Don't ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."


E is for eggs, elephants, and Jonathan Edwards

I was the only brother to ten sisters. They helped me with my studies and taught me to ride horses. I started pinning scraps of cloth to my coat to help me remember ideas I would get on long horseback rides. I used these ideas in sermons I preached and in books I wrote. With my friend George Whitefield, I was part of the Great Awakening in the American colonies. I was also a missionary to the Mohican Indians. And for a little while I was even president of Princeton University. Everywhere I went I wanted people to enjoy God and to enjoy what God has made — even spiders.


F is for frog, fire, and John Foxe, writer of heroes of the faith

I was a teacher on a big estate where they had fox hunts and grand feasts. But then Queen Mary came to the throne in England. She put many Christians in jail. I was forced to leave the country with my wife and sailed across the English Channel. Back in England, many of my friends were put to death for their faith. I wrote a book about these heroes of the faith. The book's title is really long, so folks just call it Foxe's Book of Martyrs. These were brave people who went through many cruel and scary punishments. They all had faith in a great God. I returned to England when Elizabeth I came to the throne. I was so grateful, I dedicated my book to her.


G is for garden, gown, and Lady Jane Grey, queen for nine days

When I was just a little girl I taught myself Greek and Hebrew. I used to write letters to the Reformers like Ulrich Zwingli (skip ahead to "Z" and you'll see). I was a great niece to King Henry VIII. His son, Edward VI, was the next king. A very godly king, Edward VI died after just a few years on the throne. Since I was part of the Reformation, I was put on the throne as England's queen. I only lasted nine days until — Mary's army marched through the gates. Then I was put in the Tower of London. Just before I died as a martyr, I gave my sister my Bible. Inside it I wrote, "Rejoice in Christ, as I do. Follow the steps of your master Christ, and take up your cross."


H is for hopscotch, hot dog, and Hippolytus

Hi. Let's get one thing straight, my name is Hippolytus, not hippopotamus — that's a very big animal with really short legs. I'm not Hippocrates, either — he was the father of medicine. And I'm not a hippocampus — that's a make-believe horse with a fish tail. Nope, I'm Hippolytus. I lived in Rome around AD 200, and I wrote many books. One of them was The Refutation of All Heresies. A heresy is a false teaching, and some of these false teachings denied the humanity of Jesus. Look across the page to see what my friend Ignatius has to say about that. I never signed my name to my books and soon people forgot all about me. However, in the 1840s they found a statue of me. On it was a list of all the books I wrote. Now you know who I am and you know that H is for Hippolytus.


I is for ice cream, iguana, and Ignatius

A long, long time ago, in a place far, far away ... I always wanted to say that. It is true, though, I was born before anyone else in this whole book. I was a pastor in Antioch, the city where we were first called Christians. Like the apostles (and I knew at least one of them), I would write letters to churches. During my time, some people were teaching false ideas about Christ. I reminded them that Christ came down from heaven. We call this the incarnation — a long and fancy word that also starts with an I. It means that Christ, who is God, became human just like us. He was born as a baby and grew up and played as a boy. Jesus was just like us so he could die for us on the cross. I took a great stand for my beliefs and was sent to Rome as a prisoner, where I was martyred by being eaten by lions.


J is for Jupiter, jelly beans, and Absalom Jones's journey to freedom

I was born a slave and worked in the fields. But I wanted to be free. When I was ten, I was sent to work in a grocery store in Philadelphia, the home of the Liberty Bell. I worked very hard at my job and went to school at night. Later on I married and we saved enough money to buy our freedom. At church one Sunday they told us to sit in a certain place because of the color of our skin. We left and formed a new church, and I soon became the pastor. At our new church I preached that God was the father of us all, red and yellow, black and white. Our church was its own Liberty Bell, ringing out a message of freedom for everyone.


K is for kirk, king, and John Knox

Who's there?

My last name starts with a silent K, but I refused to keep silent! The church in my home of Scotland wasn't following the Bible, and neither were the kings and queens. So I spoke up. I was arrested and put on a galley ship. Then they kicked me out of the country, so I went to see my friend John Calvin. Later I went back home and kept on preaching and writing. The gospel spread all around the kingdom. I kept busy and even helped start the Presbyterian church, too.


L is for lollipop, lute, and Martin Luther, larger-than-life Reformer

... take one down, pass it around, 95 Theses on the church door ...

I saw the whole world change in my lifetime, and I had a little something to do with it. I helped the church find its way back to the Bible and back to Christ and his work on the cross. It all started when I hammered a piece of paper to the church door at Wittenberg in Germany. Now don't try that at your church. People don't like that. In fact, it turned out that the Pope didn't like it and they put me on trial in Worms (the city called Worms — not the things crawling in the ground). But I stood up for the Word of God. The Reformation spread all around Germany and soon all around Europe. I loved to preach and teach. I always enjoyed eating and good music. But most of all I loved to teach children the catechism. Even our family dog would listen in.


M is for muffin, moose, and Monica, mother of Augustine

I'm Monica, and my son is back on the first page. I loved Augustine very much and prayed for him every day. I kept a close watch on that boy of mine. When he moved, I followed close behind. We even made it all the way to Milan, Italy. There he met a great pastor, Bishop Ambrose, and a great friend, Alypius. Eventually, my son met our mighty God. I was so happy when Augustine told me that he had become a follower of Jesus. That's what matters most, and that's a mom's mission.


N is for noodles, nachos, and John Newton, writer of "Amazing Grace"

"I was blind, but now I see." That's a line I wrote in the song "Amazing Grace." But it took me a long time to learn that. My father built ships and I first went to sea at age eleven. Later, I became captain of my own ship. But I used my ship to trade slaves. I could not see God's grace or God's love for me. I was blinded by my sin. After a bad storm and a shipwreck I cried out to God for help. He helped me and he saved me from my sin. I spent the rest of my life preaching, writing hymns, and working very hard to put an end to the slave trade. God's grace is amazing.


O is for octopus, orange, and John Owen, Oxford Reformer

I grew up outside of Oxford in England. When I got a little older I went there for college. I played the flute and I liked sports. I threw the javelin and ran the long jump. I also cracked open the books. Later I moved to London. England was in a civil war back then. It was a dangerous time. After the war, I went back to Oxford. I wrote many books. Some were really loooong. Even though I liked sports, I realized we don't have the power within ourselves to do what God requires. God works in us. One of my many friends was John Bunyan. He showed me a copy of something he wrote. I said, "John, you have to publish this." He did. It's called Pilgrim's Progress. That book title has two P's in it. And "P" is our next letter.


P is for pirates, potatoes, and Patrick — patron saint of Ireland

The stories many people tell about me are filled with snakes and shamrocks, but when I told people about my life I wrote, "I am Patrick, yes a sinner and simplest of peasants." When I first went to Ireland, I was sixteen years old. But I hadn't been planning on going there — I was captured by pirates! They sold me to the Irish, who put me to work herding sheep. I prayed a lot. Finally, I escaped and sailed back home to England. There I studied to be a priest and later went back to Ireland. The people were in spiritual darkness and needed someone to preach the gospel to them. I prayed for Christ to protect me and for God's purpose to come to pass. In the end I baptized thousands of pagans, including both paupers and princes. Eventually people all over Ireland converted to Christ and sent out missionaries through the whole world. Some even say that the Irish saved civilization.


Q is for quilt, quail, and Queen Jeanne

I ruled the quaint region of Navarre, nestled right in between the countries of Spain and France. My mom ruled before me. She became friends with Martin Luther and John Calvin. She even translated Luther's writings into French. All over France true Christians were persecuted, so I made Navarre a safe place for them to worship. I even set up schools to train pastors. My big dream was to bring the Reformation to France. But France's queen didn't want the Reformation at all. She launched a very bad time of persecution. But despite all the suffering, believers still wouldn't quit.


R is for rabbit, rook, and Bishop Ridley, Reformation martyr

I was chaplain to King Henry VIII and later I was the Bishop of Rochester. I rode a horse all around the region making sure people understood the gospel and the Reformation. Next, I was Bishop of London. But then Queen Mary came to the throne and ordered me to recant my views. I refused. My friend Hugh Latimer and I were burned at the stake. Just before we died as martyrs, my friend said to me, "Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, this day we will light a candle in England that, by God's grace, will never be put out."


S is for sermons, smoke, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When I was a boy I would sneak off to read books. My favorite was Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. By the time I was sixteen years old I was preaching sermons. That's no surprise, since my family is full of pastors. My dad, granddad, brothers, and even my twin sons were all preachers. So many people came to hear me preach that we built a big church called Metropolitan Tabernacle. It was in a part of the city of London called "Elephant and Castle." It was big, but not big enough for elephants! I loved to preach sermons to children. I told everyone, small and big, that we are all great sinners, but Jesus is a far greater Savior.


T is for turban, triangle, and Tertullian, ancient theologian

If you think that my hat looks funny, then you should see what the next guy is wearing ...

My full name is Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, but you can call me Tertullian. I was born around AD 150 in Carthage, on the northern coast of Africa. When I was really old, at age forty, I became a Christian. I quickly became a theologian, someone who studies the Bible and teaches others about God. I coined a very important term, the word "Trinity." This word means that God is one being in three persons. God is three in one. It can be tricky — but it's an important truth. I wrote many books, all devoted to pursuing the truth that is found in God's Word. Try saying this ten times: Tertullian tells the truth.


U is for ukulele, unicycle, and Zacharias Ursinus

U probably don't know me. My last name means "bear," but I don't growl. I first went to school in Martin Luther's hometown. Then I went to Geneva and had John Calvin as a teacher. After all that school I went to Heidelberg. I was a teacher of theology and I was a preacher. I was very busy and never hibernated. I soon realized that many of the big ideas we talked about needed to be taught to children. So some friends and I wrote a catechism. The first question is, What is your only comfort in life and death? Here's the answer: That I am not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Lots of kids have memorized this. You should give it a try.


V is for violin, vanilla, and Antonio Vivaldi

I was born in Venice, Italy. I later moved to Vienna, surrounded by the Swiss Alps. From the time I was very young I loved music. I especially loved to play the violin. My father taught me how to play and I also taught others. My first students were girls in an orphanage. I used my gifts to sing praises to God and to write music. I wrote all kinds of music: music for the church, music about nature, and music for special events. I once wrote a very long piece of music called The Four Seasons. I was ordained as a priest and was called "the Red-haired Priest." Make that "the Red-haired Priest Who Could Play the Violin."


Excerpted from "The Church History ABCs"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
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Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Idea: make expanded version and turn it into a full church history curriculim.I mean,it would be a great class to take,and you should also discuss biblical greek along with it.Moral: WE HAVE TO GET TOGETHER AND MAKE GOOD BOOKS INTO CURRICULUMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jennifer Bush More than 1 year ago
this is great for adding a little some extra to devotions or homeschool.
lipto96 More than 1 year ago
Recently I received a copy of the book "the Church History ABC's" by Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard from Crossway. This is a book for children (book says ages 3 - 6) that gives a brief introduction to 27 figures from church history (2 for W). I really enjoyed this book. It offers a wide range of people that emphasize different nuances of what the church believes. I think this book would be very helpful for a Sunday School class, a parent teaching their child, or any other arena where children are being taught about the church. I highly recommend this book. This is a review copy from Crossway.
Anne-B More than 1 year ago
Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard have published a new book called The Church History ABCs: Augustine and twenty-five other heroes of the Faith. Here is their website for the book: The book begins with a short introduction and then a brief page on each of twenty-five people who lived as early as 110 A.D. and died as late as 1940. Each letter identifies a person important to church history such as Spurgeon, Martin Luther, or Anne Bradstreet. I was glad that several women were included. At the end of the book, there is a long paragraph about each person that gives more description about who each person was and why they are significant--how they glorified God in their lives. There is also a timeline list of the 25 people. I wish there was also a visual timeline with a few historical events identified to help place these people in history. On the website, there are several coloring pages and activity pages to go with the book. I like the illustrations and the writing. One question I asked myself was how could I help my kids relate to this book? How could this book be useful to me and my kids? I homeschool and my girls will be in 2nd grade and kindergarten. This year I have decided to start reading through A Child's History of the World by Virgil Hillyer. This book was recommended to me by several people. They read the book withe their children and then had them draw pictures about what they have listened to. One downside to using this book is that it doesn't address history from a Christian perspective or include much of the history of the Christian church. My plan is to read each of the ABCs in chronological order as we get to that period in history in the book. It will help bring in the history of the church for my kids as we learn about the past. One reason I've chosen to teach history this way is that I realized I have been trying to cover too much in our homeschooling and I am trying to simplify. I also have the ValueTales books and I am also going to integrate them into our reading in the same way I'm going to use this church history book. If I weren't homeschooling, how would I use this book? When would I read it? It would be a good reference book if my kids asked me questions about who these people were. It might spur on discussions about history and the things that happened in the early Christian church. Honestly, I don't know of any other books on church history, so this is a unique book for children in grades K-5. I would love more--more content, more description. I'd love more of a timeline about history and the part that these people played in it. In short, I'd love a great history book of church history for children. But, this is a good place to start. I did give this book 4 stars, but I would give it 4 1/2 stars. The extras on the website are nice and they really compliment the book. The only reason I've not given it 5 stars is that I just wish there was a broad visual timeline of events in history corresponding to when these people lived to help parents and children put the lives of these people more in the context of history. You can view a sample and excerpt of the book at this website: Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Crossway Books.