Do you consider it a privilege to be able to read?
I have such good memories of reading. My mom read to me when I was little before I could read to myself. There are a half dozen Little Golden Book covers that bring back such memories. I read stacks of books to the boys as they were growing up, which they in turn read multiple times on rainy days or lazy evenings in the jungle. Reading can take you to places that you cannot go, teach you about history that you missed, and introduce you to people you wouldn’t be able to meet personally.
Reading the Bible, however, is a different thing altogether. The privilege we have to read God’s Word in our own language is paramount to all other reading. There is no other book that boasts of having life—living letters written to us by God that contain peace, hope, and love. Inside the chapters, we can understand the questions of our existence, come to know the God of the universe who brought everything into being, and realize the extent of His love for us and His justice in this world. It is a beautiful thing!
The deep, abiding truths of God’s Word are what ground us and form our worldview. It sustains us in suffering. It guides us in the storms of life. It causes the good things in this life to shine all the brighter because we truly know their origin and their purpose.
How many days after stopping to read just a verse or two have you left encouraged and hopeful? How many times have the details of your life seemed overwhelming, maybe insurmountable, then with just a passage everything is set right and perspective is once again in place.
When we first moved into the jungle, the people we lived with only had an oral language. There was nothing in their language to read because it had never been written. Our team felt it was crucial for the longevity of the church-to-come to have God’s Word written down for them to be able to read. Why? So that when we were no longer there, they would have God’s Word for generations to come: the message that does not change, the message that they could read to their children and their grandchildren that explains the great work of Yahweh to bring people from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation into a right relationship with Him.
We have just returned to Asia Pacific after our home assignment in the United States. We are shopping and preparing supplies to return to our jungle home and to see our tribal friends. However, there are several people who won’t be there to greet us. They have left our home village and have traveled to a satellite church to teach. Some of our Bible teachers needed to return to continue to teach the new believers more Bible lessons from the New Testament. But for the first time our literacy teachers are accompanying them to teach our six-month literacy course to the people in that village so they may all have the privilege of reading the Bible portions that have been translated and printed in their language.
For six months, these literacy teachers will be away from home, away from their gardens, away from their friends and family, all because they find great worth in the written Word and put great importance on being generous with that knowledge.
What we have clearly seen is that there are no shortcuts when it comes to cross-cultural ministries. Learn the heart language, understand worldview and culture, clearly teach the Bible, and make disciples who will in turn make disciples. All these tasks take time, relationships, and understanding. It can’t be done in a matter of weeks or months. We are thankful for our disciples who are going out to make disciples so that everyone in their language group can have the same opportunities that they have!
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