Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Sitting on the Floor


I had been saving seats next to me in the crowded auditorium when I realized my friends weren’t going to make it.  So I told the usher to allow two of the people outside to come in and take those seats.  Two well dressed women came and sat next to me.  You have to understand, this event of Nine Lessons and Carols at the international school was one of my first experiences here in Jos when I came to visit Zach before we were married.  It’s so precious to me that I just melt into my seat and revel at the lights and the people singing my favorite hymns (even if they do it with the British tunes).  This year each of the readings was even done in a different language! Languages mixed with Christmas?  It was the best!  

During a very touching song, as tears just started to spring into my eyes, the women I’d welcomed into my space started talking.  I gave them a “look,” and turned my rapped attention back to the song being performed.  These women didn’t stop talking!  I mean, my twins were wandering and clamoring on my lap, but they are three years old!  I was indignant.  I shot them another look, and with a loud sigh, I moved and sat heavily on the step in the isle. I felt so justified in my annoyance, balancing on the brim of anger.  But at the next reading, I had to release it. 

“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;

 the leopard will lie down with the baby goat…

Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,

    for as the waters fill the sea,

    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. (Isaiah 11:6;9)

In this culture to have a guest, which is what I am here, sitting on the floor is not really acceptable.  I invited these women to come and sit with me, to enjoy the beauty of that moment together, side by side, but they were distracted and refused, and drove away the guest in their midst to a place of dishonor.  It struck me how unChristlike my response was.Thankfully when he, a visitor in our world, found himself driven away and dishonored by those he’d invited into his own beauty, he loved, moved closer, and then he died for them.  

This season calls me to a new level of not being offended, of loving because Jesus loved me first, taking the humble position of criminal and rejected one in my place.  If the knowledge of the LORD is to fill this place as the waters fill the sea, it will need to start with me!

Incense and Sorrow


Ishaya sat unsmiling at the back of the room.  I wondered if he understood what was happening. Most of the 36 participants from 8 different languages were participating quite well in the Lessons from Luke Trainers Training.  I wasn’t sure how to reach the few like Ishaya.   The second day we assigned each language the task of writing a song to one of the memory verses from the curriculum.  After 15 minutes, we all gathered to hear the original masterpieces. 

Ishaya was transformed as he lead his group singing in his language. His eyes danced, he raised his hands in praise, his contagious smile mirrored on the faces gathered around.  Wonder captured me at the power of those living words sung in the language of the heart. Auntie Blessing, who has trained in many trainings with me said, “That was our best concert yet!”  Since our average training is done in English, I am convinced that the beauty of that moment was directly linked to the eight languages that echo through the days and experiences of the participants. The languages that they speak to their children, at traditional weddings, in the markets, the languages that draw them together as a people and, in that moment, the languages that is drawing them closer to God.  

After the celebration around the Word with their original songs, we had a time of prayer.  The faith they expressed in unified prayer was the backdrop to the requests raised.  Inexpressible past and ongoing grief, pain, and trauma that their communities have experienced was lifted up with shouts and Hallelujahs!  That mingling of  joy experienced when singing in their language, the grief and trauma shared, and the faithful response of these brothers and sisters in fervent prayer was truly a sacred image of heaven. “The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.” (Revelation 8:4) 

A week after this three day training, I revel in the precious opportunities of celebrating God, preparing to help children know him, and exploring how their languages can be used to make that happen with these dear brothers and sisters.  

Please do continue to lift them up as they communicate the need to share the Gospel with their children in their heart language in an ever changing linguistic scene where language communities are living together in towns.  May they use the curriculum they’ve translated to disciple children in truly understanding that call to discipleship.  

Collaboration, vulnerabity and trust

From Tuesday through Thursday, leaders of 24 Bible Translation organizations have gathered to discuss how we can work together more intenti...