When we started small groups among college students in 1997, most of our groups were in English. So in this small town called Adoor, our church was known as an “English” church. But as we began reaching out to the rest of the community, we realized there was no other way than to use the native Malayalam language. Gradually we switched our services entirely to Malayalam.
Several years ago, some people in our church began asking for an English service. They also pointed out that there might be others in the community that would be interested. So we went through the work of organizing everything we would need to start another service — in English.
But within a few short months, most of those who asked for an English service began to switch back to the Malayalam service. They gave various reasons, but one thing was clear to me. Malayalam was their heart language. They were fully functional in English, but the “gears of their heart” work better with Malayalam, their “heart” language.
Similarly, throughout northern India, there are numerous tribal groups that can understand Hindi, the national language. But they have a local language that truly is their first language, and the language that touches their heart. All over India and all over the world, there are Bible translators who spend their lives to translate the Bible into various languages so the hearts of people may be touched with the message of the Bible.
Several of my former students are currently located in remote villages investing their lives so the Bible can be available to people in their own languages. Recently I met Anthony Speziale, who is planning to work in Papua New Guinea serving Bible translators through aviation. His story intrigued me as an example of the many who have given their lives for the Word of God throughout the centuries.
Here is his story:
“Four years ago I was an alcoholic, going through a divorce and on the verge of losing my job of twelve years. God restored me spiritually, emotionally and physically. Today, I am preparing to leave on a three year assignment with Wycliffe Bible Translators to Papua New Guinea. There I will be serving Bible translation through aviation. Most people I know think giving away everything you own to go and live in another country is a heavy cross to bear. I find the weight of that cross light… and the opportunity to minister in Papua New Guinea very exciting.”
Here is his vision:
“Did you know that 180 million people in over 1800 languages around the world are still waiting for a Bible to be translated into their native tongue? That is hard to comprehend for most of us who own or have access to multiple translations of the Bible in our own language. A lady in Papua New Guinea who recently received a translation of God’s word into her native tongue, likened it to “eating a banana for the first time, without the peel.” As a member of Wycliffe, I am committed to seeing that a Bible translation project be started in every language around the world that needs one, by the year 2025!”
If you are interested to know more about what Anthony is up to, visit his website: firstname.lastname@example.org or view his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290926551067487/ The following link is a two minute video on the amazing effect Bible translation can have in building relationships with Jesus Christ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE3xnhd_Pls