Two days before Anna died, she sent an email to her second grade teacher, Mrs. Buckner, back in Louisville. In the email she let Mrs. Buckner know about some of the things that were going on in her life in Indonesia. She told her about some new friends she had made. Then she asked for prayer that, because they couldn’t speak English, and she couldn’t speak Indonesian very well, she would receive help “to share God’s love in its various forms” when they played together.
I am at the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust in Jos, Nigeria helping to lead an Old Testament workshop. I was thinking about Anna’s email yesterday morning during our devotion time before breakfast. One of the Nigerian translators was sharing some thoughts from the book of Esther. He talked about Mordecai and how his act of bravery in saving the king from an assassination plot went largely unnoticed at the time. Later in the story, however, his act is remembered and leads to the downfall of Haman, who had been plotting to destroy the Jews. His point was that many of our acts will go unnoticed in history. But we continute to do our work, not to be heralded by men, but because God has called us to the work.
About that time, I remembered Anna’s words. I remembered her desire to share God’s love with the Indonesians. She didn’t have the ability to use her words, so she simply prayed that God would give her other means. Her acts will go unheralded in history, but she was trying to do what God had called her to do.
Yesterday afternoon I met with two Nigerian translators and a translation consultant. They are working on a translation of the Old Testament in the Gokana language. I was able to join in on their work as they pored over their translation of these verses:
“And Yahweh spoke all these words to Moses,
‘I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Do not have any other gods before me.
Do make an idol or any image of a thing in the air above, or on the earth below, or in the water below the earth.’”
I am here doing this because I understand, in some sense, that God has called me here to do it. But as I sat in our meeting hall yesterday morning during devotion I began to silently weep, thinking about how much Anna would love to be a part of this translation meeting. The reason she would want to be here is that she knew her Lord Jesus. And she knew what it meant to be saved. And she knew that, even if we “shared God’s love in its various forms”, people are only saved through hearing the word proclaimed to them.
When I met with the Gokana translators the first time, I sat in a room with the consultant and one of the Nigerians. The other was late getting there. I asked the Nigerian man, “How many Gokana are there?” He thought for a moment and said, “I would say there are about 75,000 or 78,000 of us.” The consultant sitting next to him seemed surprised and said, “Oh really! I thought there were more like 150,000 Gokana.” They both shrugged and we went on with the conversation. A few minutes later, the other Gokana translator came in and sat down. I turned to him and posed the same question,”How many Gokana are there?” He furrowed his brow and tried to remember. After a moment he said, “According to the last census, there are, I think, about 250,000 or 300,000.” The rest of us let out a laugh. 75,000? 150,000? 300,000? What is it?
But whether it is 75,000 or 300,000 Gokana, the same thing is true for them all. They are in need of a Savior. That Savior is Jesus Christ. If they call on his name for salvation, they will be saved. But they cannont call on a name if they do not believe in that name. And they cannot believe in a name if they have not heard the name. And they cannot hear the name unless someone proclaims the name. Faith comes through hearing the word of God. May God bless the work that these translators are doing.