After twice being expelled from the country God asked me to serve in, he led me to another country where there is a diaspora concentration of the Muslim people group I had been reaching. He especially opened a door to reach students from the top families in their society. They will be the future leaders of their people. Here’s how he opened that door:
I am a linguist from a highly academic family and God is using my position to reach them as the students and I are on the same academic level. With very little literature in their mother tongue my influence started when someone surprisingly asked me to translate a children’s Bible he had found. After telling him I would think about it I came back to him saying, “You deserve something more authentic.” Thus began the Bible translation project.
They’re honoured that this white-faced, western lady is doing it for them and I take the opportunity to meet regularly with some of the students who help me with testing the translation. Our meetings include discussing important topics from the Bible as well as the folk-tales I translate to keep their language alive. We’ve also started praying together and one of them has begun praying to Jesus in front of the others.
Another student is the grandson of the person who translated the Quran into their language. He’s seen as the leader of the students. When I wanted to meet with him to work on a passage of scripture he knocked on the doors of other students and called them all to be involved. They regularly come to my home which I’ve decorated in their people group style and love that I cook the kind of food they would have had at home.
They are really excited when they see my translation work because they’re so familiar with the prophet stories.
In the small African country we call home there is a Muslim tribe of around 3 million people. We first began looking for ways to share Christ with them 30 years ago however they always looked at us with great suspicion and for years it was difficult to make any inroads among them. As a minority group they could see their language and culture slowly eroding - and at great risk of disappearing altogether. They blamed the government and the Christians for this, so I suppose looking at us with suspicion was understandable.
Like them, we believed the disappearance of their language and culture was not God’s desire, so after 17 years living among them we began to work on a Bible translation to help preserve their language. As we did this, we invited leaders in the tribe to talk with us about the project. At first they were suspicious and a little hostile but we soon noticed a change as they felt honoured by the high quality of our work. Increasingly they began to lean on us to help them preserve their language and culture.
Then something remarkable happened. As they read the scriptures certain chiefs were impacted by the teaching they saw. High levels of divorce among their people had become a huge problem so when they heard Bible passages about marriage they asked for a booklet containing these verses to be printed. Soon judges issuing divorces had these booklets in their hands. After reading, ‘What God has joined together let not man separate,’ many judges began telling squabbling couples, “Because God put you together I don’t have the authority to grant a divorce.” The judges go on to insist the couple read the booklet together because, “It will preserve our language and change your life!” Across the tribe it is also being used to counsel couples. Divorce rates have dropped considerably and leaders, convicted by other passages in the word of God, have stopped taking bribes.
A handful of high level chiefs (who each rule between 30,000 and 150,000 people) have now submitted their lives to Jesus. They report that a few hundred in their tribe have begun following Jesus too. They are now requesting we produce books on what the Bible says about leadership, and a book containing Bible verses that will teach their children good behaviour. Now, having gained the trust of the overall chief of the tribe he is strongly promoting all these books among his people. Simple discipleship and obedience to the word of God is impacting a whole society.
Daniel in Africa