Sunday evening last week I wandered next door to see what I might see. The family who lives in the house pictured above and their critters (a couple of pigs, a few dogs, at least four kittens) wandered among us over the weekend and gave us the freedom to wander among them as well. See the girl with the light-colored shirt? That bag she’s holding with its handle around her neck contains the Word of God in the language of her heart. I don’t know if the printed New Testament is in there, but I know that the Audi-Bible is because it was playing as I passed. They were listening to the Gospel of Matthew. There was so much promise in that moment. So much hope.
So, what was it like to be among a people as they received the Word translated? As one who understands the world through metaphors, this is a question I have been considering all week. I think it is like being present when someone else gives birth.
In my 52+ years I’ve seen a lot of babies and a lot of pregnant women. Life on either side of delivery is miraculous and yet as common as, well, dirt. It’s everywhere and every day. The commonness of it does not lessen the sacredness of it, but it does create in us an occasional issue of perception. We forget. One of the reasons we need to live within a community of people is so we more regularly are jarred to remembering. This happens every time someone we love takes a first or last breath. This happens when those we love long to bring life into the world and the wait is so long it hurts.
I can only imagine—but I have a good imagination—that the experience of being present as a wee one takes that first breath is hard to put into words. New life is breath-taking even as it is common.
Last Sunday the Arop-Lopek speaking community living on Long Island on the north coast of Papua New Guinea experienced a kind of incarnation of the Word of God among them as they dedicated the translated New Testament and took copies in print and audio into their villages and homes. Being present for this birth was humbling, breath-taking and it is hard to put into words that do it justice.
Like with the birth of a baby, it is a spectacular event marked by feasting and dancing, singing and prayer. And, also like the birth of a baby, it is only the beginning of the more important thing: LIFE—with God—for all of eternity. Pray that the Long Islanders will welcome the Word into their lives and be transformed by His love and holiness, His grace and peace.
Romans 10: 9-17 (New Living Translation)
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?”17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.