So many people in the world today have never heard what the Bible teaches about how we can be saved from sin's consequences and have a great life forever. Rachel and her husband translate the Bible in and teach in the Pelaꞌwan language. In this article, she shares her frustration at people doing things that hinder God's work and challenges us to consider becoming Bible translators or missionaries ourselves.
Once again, someone did something really stupid, that is to say, something Christians shouldn't do.
Graeme and I live among the Pelaꞌwan, a minority group in the Philippines. Among other things, we’re translating the New Testament into their language. For Pelaꞌwan believers to mature, they need God’s Word in their own language, accurate and understandable.
Most of the various steps of a translation process require working with a native speaker. As Graeme drafts a translation of a chapter, he sits alongside one of them and they work together as a team. Graeme helps them understand the meaning of the passage, and they find the words in their language that best convey it. He won’t draft a translation on his own or put anything in the translation that he hasn’t heard a native speaker say. Then the draft goes through a rigorous testing and improvement process.
It can be hard to find people with the time to work with us because most of their time is consumed by growing food and building their houses, so we are grateful to those who set aside one or two days a week to work with us. It is a big blow when one stops working with us – not because they are too busy, but because they have chosen to do something stupid.
It is always a huge disappointment when we lose a co-worker in this way. Initially we sorely miss their help as we wait for them to return, but if it seems they won't, we start training their replacement, and translating the New Testament is delayed. Each delay means the Pelaꞌwan people have to wait longer to get God’s message in their own language. No doubt, these delays give the enemy great joy. He does not want them to understand God’s Word.
There is nothing new about this. God’s desire for everyone to have a good relationship with Him and give Him glory has always been affected by people failing to advance His purpose and message.
God instructed the Israelites to be an example of a Godly nation to other nations. He promised that if they followed Him, He would bless them in every way, including materially. The other nations were meant to see how the Israelites were enjoying the blessing of God and want to be have the same God and enjoy His blessings. The Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon showed things working as they should. But the Israelites mostly failed, and God had to discipline them. Instead of nations coming to Israel to learn about God, they came to oppress and conquer Israel. Instead of the Israelites bringing glory to God, their disobedience caused the other nations to scoff at Him. None of that surprised God, but because the Israelites didn’t do the job God had given them, those nations didn’t come to know the God of the Israelites. Imagine if they had…
Two thousand years ago the Lord Jesus, God's appointed King, commanded all believers to tell all people about God's offer to save them from the punishment for sin. And like the Israelites, it seems that we too are failing. So many people have never had someone explain God's offer to them, or tell them why it makes sense to believe it, and the enemy is pleased. We all need to do whatever we can to spread this news and live lives that attract others to God, not turn them away.
I'm talking to myself here, too. Imagine what could happen if our passion was to see all people reached with God's message. Imagine how many people could be saved. And don't think that if we don't get involved in this, someone else will. God's work is always affected when we don't give our lives and resources to reach all people with the Good News.
(Day 5 - GC3 Prayer Guide)
Many people in the world desperately need Christians who are willing to put in the work required to master a new language and endure hardships and disappointments, so that others can hear the Good News. Maybe you could go, or at least encourage others to consider this challenge.
If you would like to know how you could get involved in missionary work, give Sefton Marshall a call on 06 357 8388.