How valuable is your Bible in your language? More valuable than the latest iPhone? The latest living room wall sized TV? Your dream car? An exotic holiday?
What about a shiny new spoon? Or a new enamel plate?
Wycliffe Canada colleague Jack Popjes remembers a prayer meeting in a fairly remote part of Brazil many years ago…
I will never forget that girl’s prayer during night class!
We were in the last stages of the Canela translation program. Two dozen young Canela men and women surrounded me, sitting on logs, heads bowed in prayer. We had sung hymns set to Canela indigenous music patterns, and in a few minutes would read and talk about a new draft of the translated Scriptures.
Now, it was time to pray. I heard prayers asking God to heal sick children, for a good crop, and for help to find a lost bush knife.
Then a young mother prayed:
“Great Father in the Sky,” she began. “I want to thank You for sending our brother Prejaka, and our sister Tehtikwyj, to us so long ago when I was just a little girl. They taught us to read our own language. Then they worked with us to translate Your Words into it. Now we can read Your Letter to us. Now we are discovering that You love us very much. Now we can learn how we can live to please you. Please help them to finish the Book soon.”
Then came the part that brought tears to my eyes and engraved itself into my memory.
“I also want to thank You for all Prejaka and Tehti’s friends in Canada. Every month their friends send money to them. They know that our brother and sister don’t have a food garden here like we do. They need money to buy food, and their friends in Canada send it to them.
“They don’t send it just because they are their friends. They send it because they are our brothers and sisters. Just as You are our Great Father, You are their Great Father too.
“They could keep the money, and buy nice things for themselves. Maybe they see a new enamel plate, or a shiny spoon, and ask themselves, ’Should I buy this for my family?’ But then, they decide not to buy anything, but to send the money to our brother and sister so they can stay here and help us have Your Word.
“And they sure chose right, because Your Word is so much more valuable than a new spoon, and better than an enamel plate. As a reward, give these friends, our brothers and sisters, lots of healthy children; make their gardens grow well, and keep them from getting sick. Amen.”
Bible translation is going on in 2,267 languages in more than 230 countries as you are reading this:
- Somewhere, people are reading or hearing the Word of God in their own language for the first time.
- Somewhere, the Holy Spirit is revealing the Father to someone who has only recently heard about Him.
- Somewhere, the Holy Spirit is inspiring new believers not just to thank God for His Word, and for those who bring it, but also to ask Him to bless those who send the money which makes it all possible.
- Somewhere, God is blessing donors to Bible translation and cross-cultural missions who are responding to prayers by new believers such as that young Canela mother.
This story is an encouragement to support Bible translation: if you do, keep doing it. Somewhere, someone may be thanking God for you.
Someone who you will not meet until eternity may be praying God’s blessing on you because, as that young Canela mother said,
“You sure chose right.”