Eyes of Light

Jesus made some pretty profound statements while he was here on this earth. Often times, a simple-seeming metaphor is not just food for thought, but a complex, sixteen-course, dining adventure for your mind! One of the great tasks for a Bible translator is to unravel these complexities and to make them clear in his or her own language and culture.

While working through the Gospel of Matthew, Soli translators working in Chongwe, Zambia got stuck on one such passage. In chapter 6, Jesus compares our eyes to lamps and says, “if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” The Soli words for lamps connotate electricity, wires, and switches, so do we have Jesus talk about turning on and off lights? Do we change the metaphor or educate about Jewish lamps? How can we say the same thing differently? And, the questions are not only about a word, but the concepts too—how can light be darkness? Is this talking about the medically blind or the spiritually lost? What does God want to say to the Soli people?

Well, He not only gave insight to the translators but this passage became a larger metaphor for the project itself. Instead of talking about physical lamps and bulbs, the translators were inspired to talk about “sources” of light and darkness. This took on special meaning for the translators, because the Soli Bible Translation project has been a source of light shining in some dark places and situations.

Now, with the entire New Testament available in Soli, Jesus’ powerful and oft enigmatic words can be heard and understood in new and amazing ways! Yes, Jesus speaks Soli and now the New Testament messages of truth, love, and light are available for the Soli people to understand clearly—in their own language.

Joel Brown

Bringing Heaven to Earth

One of the amazing gifts of working with The Word for the World is the opportunity to listen and learn from our leaders, who have cultural perspectives vastly different from my own. While attending my first regional training event for TWFTW, I was convicted by one such leader, Davies Malembeka (now our Southern Africa Regional Director), when he started teaching by saying:

“God did not save you so that you can get to heaven. You have been saved to bring heaven to earth.”

These words, said to a group of about sixty Bible translators, many coming from difficult living situations in rural Africa, had a tangible impact in the room. We were encouraged to “be the kingdom of God” right where we live—to not only look forward to own salvation, but to engage in the mission of God now, and to be lights in dark places.

We are not translating the Bible as a means to ensure our salvation, or to prove ourselves to God. NO! We translate the Scriptures to see people and their communities transformed—to see the Kingdom of Heaven expanded on earth!

While teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus says to His Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). God is moving amongst people all over the world and you are intrinsically connected with this global work God is doing to expand His kingdom on earth. Whether you are a believer anywhere in the world, a pastor in the developing world, or a potential teacher, translator, or consultant--you have been saved, AND you can help bring heaven to earth!

Get Involved!

Joel Brown