Talking Heart to Heart
Beth reflects on what we’ve learned about the realities of Bible translation.
Mission opens up opportunities for conversations you wouldn’t usually get to have. In Vanuatu, the time we’ve spent talking to people has highlighted two great necessities for us: people need the Bible translated into their heart language, and people need hearts that genuinely desire to know the word of God.
Our team has been able to speak with missionaries from all over the world. They play different roles, but they are united by Jesus and by their passion to see the word of God in the hearts and hands of the Ni-Vanuatu (that’s the name for people from Vanuatu).
Ross and Lyndal Webb have been particularly encouraging. They’ve recently completed the last leg of a Bible translation, and now they are continuing their discipleship work on Epi Island with the hope of seeing the village communities impacted more and more by the word of God.
The Webbs have played a large role in educating our team about the realities of Bible translation. Nerdiness is not a prerequisite; neither is expertise in Greek and Hebrew. There are three basic requirements for a translator: an ability to connect deeply with people from a different culture, a passion to see God’s word held in open hands and hearts, and the flexibility to live quite simply. Chatting to the Webbs over starchy food, long walks to nearby villages or by the beach at night, has been a highlight for many of us this week.
For two nights on Epi Island we were sent out individually to eat with different families in the village. This was daunting for some; it was significant for all. Not only did we enjoy generous hospitality and conversations under the stars, drinking coconuts and sitting on pandanas-leaf mats, we also introduced them to a Bible-reading plan that would see them through to Easter. The privilege was all ours as we had a taste of what it’s like for Bible translators. They expend every effort to improve literacy and generate enthusiasm for reading, so that their village friends might love the word of God.
Back in Port Vila, our team has now enjoyed two evenings of fellowship and conversation with university students from all over the Pacific. Approximately 25 students meet on Friday nights at the university; we served at their meetings and were mutually encouraged.
In private conversations with these students, we discovered that many of them have been struck for the first time in these meetings by what Jesus means when he speaks of grace. Some of them do have a Bible translation in their heart language, and many have a genuine heart-desire to know it and live it because of the grace that Jesus has shown to them.
The prayer of our team is to see more Ni-Vanuatu passionate like these students. We long to see them transformed by the grace of Jesus as the Bible is placed in their hands in their heart language. We pray that God will prompt their hearts to know and love him more because they properly understand it and are feeding on it.
We’re also praying that many more people, especially students at Moore College, might understand the true realities of Bible translation, that they might pray for, promote, and consider taking part in this mighty work of the Lord.