Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Victories and challenges

Twice a year, I get a chance to just sit back and listen as our staff give updates on victories and challenges they are facing as they progress in learning about languages, developing alphabets, training teachers, and translating the Bible. It is so moving to hear of breakthroughs mixed with serious challenges. Back in March and April, I jotted down notes of things I saw God doing. Thank God with me for these things!
Over the years I have had the opportunity to sit with many pastors and hear about the challenging choices they make. Often the people in their church come from several different languages, language communities, leading pastors and/or church leaders to perceive that a language of wider communication is the only available choice to bring unity for most church activities. Regrettably these can become instead languages of “wilder confusion” for many in the church—often the majority—especially women and children. I heard of many churches that have chosen to do the Bible reading in the newly translated Gospel of Luke in their language. In another language, people are requesting entire mother-tongue services. Praise God for this gift of understanding!

Sharing good things God has done

In many areas, we heard about challenges with kidnapping and insecurity. These realities make it difficult for people to meet together—a key part of effective work. In one of these places a special Bible study was prepared to go along with the recently translated book of Jonah. People had Bible studies from this book in January. I can only imagine the impact of God’s mercy on the wicked Ninevites will have had on these small groups. Praise God for his mercy and compassion!

Staff think and plan together
One of the sad experiences we have faced is that often in churches—the very place where we should expect God’s love—we hear statements of hate from one people group against another. How are these people supposed to know God’s love if not through us, his people? I have seen in one individual after another express openness to accept this wrong and a willingness to change. Thank God and pray for more love! At the same time, we hear of over 500 audio Bible study groups happening in one of these people groups that has received hate. Thank God for his Word that speaks!

Our experiences encourage each other
In different areas I have heard about challenges people have in reading because of complex tones or the subtle meanings of small words. I heard stories of progress in studying these complex issues. In many places I also heard about churches and government schools teaching children and adults to read in their own language. Praise God for this gift that should bring deeper learning and change to many areas of life!

We will get to meet again soon and share about the joys and struggles. Please pray that God will encourage our hearts and use this coming together to open doors in places where colleagues may feel “stuck”.

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