I went to church last Sunday as I do every Sunday. A lot more than habit, it fulfills a deep need to be in the company of fellow believers, my church family. I openly carried my Bible, parked right in front of the building, and sang the hymns. I listened to scripture and then to my pastor’s message. I even stayed late for our first-Sunday-of-the month brunch.
There was nothing covert about any of this.
On Monday, I received a letter from Wycliffe Associates, a mission organization dedicated to translating scripture into native tongues across the world.
As a student at Moody Bible Institute, I briefly considering affiliating with Wycliffe. God did not lead in that direction and many years later, as I tried to learn to speak Spanish, I understood why. Try as I would, I simply couldn’t master it.
At that time, Wycliffe missionaries went to non-English speaking areas around the globe, where they listened and learned the language. In some cases, they had to develop the written word. Once they felt they had mastered the language sufficiently, they began the translation process. It was a years-long, very challenging process to make the Word of God available in native tongues so it would truly become the Living Word.
Today’s technology enters the picture. Now, Wycliffe associates can use computer tablets, software, and other technology and equipment to make God’s Word available in the heart language of many nations and tribes in much shorter time. Forty different languages need to be translated in the one nation featured in this letter alone – a nation not named due to the extreme danger to all Christians living there.
Quoting from the letter, “Christians are being rooted out … threatened … stripped of their livelihoods … beaten … tortured… Some are hung from ceilings until they ‘confess.’ Some are arrested, falsely charged, ordered by judges to be flogged, or their limbs amputated. Some are abducted outright, some are sold into slavery, some are offered the option of converting to Islam – and some are simply executed.” Truly, “to be a Christian is to be a target.”
Yet, it is the native Christians in this country who are covertly doing much of the translation work for the benefit of their own people.
The native leader of this translation team grew up in a grim orphanage and his heart was hardened at an early age. As soon as he could, he joined the fighters where he was trained to hate and brainwashed to despise Christianity.
One day this trained killer came face to face with God’s Word in a language he could understand. “He found the power of the Word could not be resisted. Could not be denied. Could not be escaped.” He became a believer. Through the decision to accept Christ, the hunter became the hunted. Since his conversion, he has been beaten and imprisoned for his faith. He and his family are in constant risk. Yet, he heads the translation team.
In our country, we are free to worship openly and to fellowship with fellow believers without fear of being arrested for that “sin.” We do not fear or suffer for our faith.
Surely, people in countries ruled by ISIS need the Word of God in their own heart language. Yet, we who have the Bible in many translations fail to appreciate it, study it, live it. We who know the Truth must share it with others. Start with your neighbors and family.