Do you value the blessing of possessing the Bible in your own heart language? And do you value the task of getting it to other people in theirs? Listen to this true story, passed on to me by my friend Allen (*original sources below):
Sebastian was 55 - quite elderly for his small Mexican community - when he began translating the Scriptures into his Tezoatlan Mixtec language. He had no training, only a second grade education, no help, not even an alphabet beyond the Spanish one he’d learned in school, but he saw a need. He bought a notebook and set out to translate the resurrection story in Luke 24. It was hard to spell Mixtec words using only Spanish letters. It was even harder to understand the biblical concepts and express them in his own language. He took his beloved notebook to every Bible study, but he didn’t read from it out of fear that he might have mistranslated the precious Word of God.
Then one night with trembling hands, he opened his notebook and began to read. Several people gasped as they realized that he was reading in Mixtec, their heart language. Then the room grew quiet. Sebastian read on for a long time, and when he stopped, he knew that no one present would ever be the same again. God was no longer a “foreigner.” God spoke Mixtec, and the words went straight to Mixtec hearts.
Four years after Sebastian began translating, Wycliffe member John Williams came to Sebastian’s village. As Sebastian and John worked together, Sebastian eagerly contributed to every aspect of the translation and literacy work. Thirteen years later, with joy and thankfulness, Sebastian held in his hands a draft of the whole New Testament in Tezoatlan Mixtec.*
I hope that makes you thankful for your own Bible, and desirous to pray and give so that others might have it, too. If so, let me plug to you Wycliffe Bible Translators, with whose work this story intersects ... along with some friends who minister through Wycliffe in various ways: Allen and Rebecca, Hasso Pape, and Colin and Dianne Lord.
*This story was has been previously told in the Wycliffe magazine In Other Words, and by John Williams, the missionary mentioned above. It was then summarized by Bob Creson, President of Wycliffe (see the previous link or Creson's book, The Finish Line, pp.61-64). The above quotation is a shortened version of Creson's summary.