A Writer’s Impact on Bible Translation

15 Apr

“Translator Lee Bramlett was confident that God had left His mark on the Hdi culture somewhere, but though he searched, he could not find it. Where was the footprint of God in the history or daily life of these Cameroonian people?  What clue had He planted to let the Hdi know Who He was and how He wanted to relate to them?

Then one night in a dream, God prompted Lee to look again at the Hdi word for love. Lee and his wife, Tammi, had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?

Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, which included the most influential leaders in the community, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?”  “Yes,” they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.

“Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.

“Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?”  Everyone laughed. “Of course not!  If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.”

Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”

There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean?  This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”

One simple vowel and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on Who I am. I love you because of Me and NOT because of you.”

 

Powerful stories like the one you just read impact lives with a passion for the Gospel.  Each day, they inspire a new generation of believers to dedicate themselves wholly to the vital task of Bible translation. Yet many of these stories would never be told if not for the writers who record the experiences of Wycliffe’s overseas workers.

While serving Bible translation as a writer (especially stateside) is not what one typically envisions as “missions work”, the services of skilled professionals like myself are necessary if Wycliffe is to acquire both the manpower and the financial support necessary to accomplish the vision of ensuring that by 2025, a translation is in progress for every language in need.

No member of the body is less important than the others when it comes to accomplishing this goal!  Romans 10:14 asks, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”  (NASB)  This week, as you pray, please consider whether God would have you (or someone you know) play a role in this task by partnering with me through prayer and financial support.

If God calls you to play this vital role, you can express your intentions at: http://www.wycliffe.org/Partnership.aspx?mid=2C51C7

 

 

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