What If You Couldn’t Read Your Bible?

I’m from Perry, Missouri.  Less than 1,000 people are housed in her city limits.  Few of them anything but White Anglo-Saxons.  Most of them perhaps not sure what an Anglo-Saxon is; that’s not to insult my hometown—merely to say that in an agrarian society, like Perry, knowing what an Anglo-Saxon is really doesn’t matter.

I share all of that to say that my exposure to people of different languages and nationalities for the first 18 years of my life was pretty minimal.  Then I went to college.  Even here “they” were not normal.  Most of my college was made up of white folk.  But my college was also attempting to have a good soccer team, so they turned to Argentina.  The basketball program turned to Croatia (I think it was Croatia).

That was frustrating.  Having to converse with someone that only spoke broken English was frustrating.  Then there were those students that only spoke a few English words.  A language gap is ridiculously difficult to overcome.  It makes everyone involved feel a little stupid and a little embarrassed.

Fast forward a few years and I am still struggling with foreign languages.  I still can’t speak much Spanish.  (Although my time working in the kitchen at the Chick-Fil-A helped me learn a few more Spanish words—though I’m certain they shouldn’t be repeated.)  I don’t know Italian, French, Russian, or any other language.  I can maybe speak Pig Latin.  And I’m presently trying to learn Greek and Hebrew.

This semester I am learning Hebrew.  I do not know any of the letters.  I haven’t a clue of a single word.  As I look at a Hebrew Bible my mind cannot comprehend what I am about to learn.  And I’m getting a little anxious.  Then a though occurred to me, “wouldn’t it really stink to be a believer in England in the 1400s.”

They had never heard the Bible in their own tongue.  Before William Tyndale in 1526 these words were never on the tongues of the English peoples:

Behold the lamb of God
I am the way, the truth, and the life
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory
Seek, and ye shall find
With God all things are possible
In him we live, move, and have our being
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
Behold, I stand at the door and knock
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light
Fight the good fight*

Unbelievable.  Thinking about this makes this video take on even greater weight.  I weeped the first time I watched it; slightly undone as I watch it again:

I’m thankful to have a Bible in my native tongue.  I’m encouraged to see this video and rejoice with these brothers and sisters in Christ, that they too have a Bible in their native tongue.  I’m also exhorted to continue the work.  There are still thousands of people groups—millions of people—that do not yet have a Bible in a language that they can see, hear, or speak.

Tyndale, prayed that the Lord might open the King of England’s eyes so that he would get the Bible in English.  I’m praying that the Lord may open our eyes that we might not flit away our time and resources on non-eternals.  I’m praying that the Lord may open our eyes so that we spend less on dog food and more on missions (instead of the other way around).

*I am indebted to David Teems for that list.  (I will review his biography on Tyndale in a few weeks).

Read more: http://www.mikeleake.net/

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    We are in a unique position. I have more Bibles than whole nations had many years ago. That which we have so much of we often treat like it was common and unimportant.

    Good reminder, Mike.

  2. says

    Great reminder. While people can be reached and saved before the Scriptures are fully translated into their own first language (Bart Barber had a thought-provoking post on his blog about that last week), the joy of being able to read (or even hear) God’s Word in our language of thought is lost on us who have 20 Bibles in the house and 50 on our ipods.

    And now I know where Perry, MO is, thanks to Google.

  3. says

    Going door-to-door in the slums of India last year, I met a woman who wanted to know Christ better. We offered her a Bible in the language she spoke, but she couldn’t read. She had to depend on her husband to read their Bible to her when she could get him to. I just spent the next while with her reading it to her (or rather having the translator read it to her).

  4. Robert I Masters says

    Hi Mike,
    My dad, Phil Masters, was the first missionary to share the Gospel with the Kimyals in West Papua.

    A little farther explanation here.

    http://tinyurl.com/7n44xhl

    Also Semea ,who you see praying in that video, passed away approx 6 months ago. When he was able to see the Bible in his own language God called him home. Praise God for this faithful man.