03 Feb Trail of Obedience – Bible Translators
The power of God’s Word changes our lives, the way we think, believe and live. Engaging in God’s Word is the hallmark of UESI ministry. We believe Bible is our basis and Jesus is our model. If God’s Word is available only in Hebrew and Greek (the original languages), we would not have known God personally. We enjoy the privilege of knowing God in our mother tongue or the language we know the best. Thank God for the missionaries who walked the trail of obedience to God and gave their lives to translate the Bible in our languages. In so many different ways we can involve in serving God. Bible Translation is one of them. Many have committed their lives to translate the Bible in the Bible less languages of our country.
Here are a few testimonies of how God guided them for this cause. George Edward is a Bible Translator who is working with Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB). He translated the New Testament in Malto Language of Jharkhand which was published for the first time in February 2000. The translation of the Old Testament is in progress.
He recalls . . . In May, 1980, Dr Alaichamy Paul, Kukna (language) Bible translator, challenged us, the participants of an UESI training camp at Oddanchatram in Tamil Nadu. The key thought which challenged me was, “if you want to achieve something for the Lord which has eternal and lasting impact using your talents, Bible translation ministry is one of the best options for you.” The same thought was emphatically confirmed to me when I had a personal talk with him in June 1981 at Dindigul, TN.
He said to me, “once we give the written Word of God in one’s own mother-tongue, it will work as a permanent missionary among them.” This statement attracted me and eventually I committed myself deeply for the task of Bible Translation. Since then I have been progressing with my wife Premila to give the whole Bible in Malto language, often taking those remarkable words into my heart. Let’s hear from Sunil K. Mathew:
I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord, in an UESI camp and grew in learning the Bible and Christian life in EU fellowships. After my Engineering studies, when I was working as a lecturer in an Engineering college, I happened to attend a Mission Retreat (EU) in 1992. In that Retreat, the preacher told about the Bible less languages of our country and how God has blessed us, to be a blessing for others. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the many blessings I could enjoy because the Bible is available in my heart language (Malayalam) due to the hard toil of several missionaries who risked their lives. I submitted my life to the Lord to become a Bible Translator to serve the Bible-less people of our country.
My wife Maya, and I joined FMPB to serve the Lord among the Dungra Bhil people in Gujarat. We translated the New Testament and it was published in 2009. The Old Testament translation is in progress. We are also involved in training many other Bible translators and checking their Bible translations for accuracy. “There is only one life, it will soon be passed, what we do for Christ will only last.” Joseph Sounderaraj and Omana Joseph translated the New Testament in the language of Bison Horn Madiya in Chattisgarh which was published on 10th February 2010. They are working with Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM). Let us hear both of them as they share how God guided them to walk in this trail.
Joseph: Having committed to God’s call for full time ministry I came to the Bible College to equip myself; but I was not sure about which type of ministry God was leading me into. In a conference that the college had arranged, I heard an expat Bible Translator challenge the Indian students for Bible Translation ministry in India. At that point of time all the expat missionaries had been asked by the Indian Government to leave the country immediately. That person said, “We have to leave; we need Indian nationals to take up this work for the Indian people!” When I heard this challenge I committed myself for Bible Translation ministry.
Omana: When I was doing my Bachelors degree I happened to attend an EU missionary training camp which had been organised for those who had committed for any full time ministry. During the camp there were many full time servants who shared about their respective ministries. The missionary who spoke about the Bible Translation ministry said, “There are so many language groups in our country who do not have Scriptures in their own mother tongue; we need people who would stick on, reduce these languages into writing and do a faithful translation for these peoples; it may not be a glamorous ministry and require a life term.”
I felt God calling me for this ministry and committed myself. It’s Daniel Selvaraj’s turn to share his experience…. I accepted Christ as my personal Saviour through a students’ meeting (SOZO) conducted by Blessing Youth Mission. After that I started involving in students ministry for two years. During this period, gradually, I got an urge to serve as a missionary, committing my whole life. However, I was not sure about where to go? What to do? In 1995, when I attended mission ’95 conference of FMPB, I heard about Bible translation need in India and other countries for the first time. I was surprised to hear “still many communities (people groups) are waiting to get God’s word in their own languages.” During this conference I got confirmed from God to go as a missionary and a Bible translator. With this desire, I joined New Life Computer Institute (NLCI) which was involved in Socio-linguistic survey (to find out which language needs Bible translation in India), to know God’s will and the community among which He wants me to serve. In my two years stay in Gujarat as a sociolinguistic surveyor, I could not sense God’s guidance to serve in Gujarat. Later I was asked to train a new surveyor in South India. Though the focus of the survey was training a new surveyor, when we visited the first Beta Kurumba (BK) village in Nilgiris, Tamilnadu, I could sense God’s guidance – “this is the people group, God wants me to serve”. After 12 years, when I look back at the way God guided me and my wife, Jayakodi to serve the BK community and finish the translation of the New Testament, Psalms 119:92 (my favourite verse) is very true for this community too:
If your law had not been my (the community’s) delight, I (They) would have perished in my (their) affliction. If the Lord guides, let us be available to Him, to involve in the ministry of Bible Translation.
About the Author
Prince and Jennitha are serving as Bible translators in Gujarat.