“What are the three most important activities people in your congregation do that help them gain knowledge of the Bible and grow spiritually?” I ask the question slowly and clearly, because I know it is a long one. It is the sixth time I have asked this question today (not counting restating in other words to make it clearer) with the sixth church leader. I sit on his neighbor’s tiled porch with a small group of women and youth from his church who are listening to our interview. Among the three things he lists are the Wednesday Bible studies. This has been a very common response, far more common that the Sunday morning preaching.
“What languages do you use in your Bible studies?” I ask.
“Only Ekajuk,” the deacon answers. “We don’t usually have as many strangers [that is outsiders] in our Bible studies.” Although Bible studies are typically not attended as well, I have begun to believe that this is probably one of the most important times for a church to be using the local language.
“Has hearing or reading Scripture cause you to change the way you live your life?” I ask. Before coming to the Ekajuk land, we were given the impression that the Ekajuk people may not see the relevance of Scriptures to their lives. However, the deacon and several members present shared how their lives had been changed by reading the Bible. One man said he once was “a smoker and lived a useless life” (here smoking is often strongly associated with a sinful lifestyle) and a woman shared how she used to “curse people anyhow”, but now “I worship my Lord.” Seeing the joyful smiles on their faces as they shared their testimonies, I couldn’t help but believe these were sincere testimonies of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Later on in the interview I learned that no one in the church actually has a copy of the Ekajuk New Testament, and no one knew where to buy one. However, there are two people in their church who have learned to read the Bible well despite this. They actually borrow the copy that they are using in their Bible studies. They must normally use English Bibles, because they say they only borrow the Ekajuk Bible about once every month or two. I shared with them that a pastor I had interviewed earlier that day sells copies of the New Testament. I told them how much it cost, and that he only had two copies left, but should be getting more soon.
Please join me in thanking God that these people are reading his Word and being transformed by it. Ask him to provide a way for them to get several copies of the Bible in their own language.