One of the greatest blessings of our lives as Christians is that we know, understand and rejoice that God speaks. If we stop for a moment and think about it: If He didn’t reveal Himself to us, and tell us who He is and what He is like, how could we ever have any knowledge of Him at all? There would be no way! It would be like a little ant trying to know about Mars - it would never be! But, in His great wisdom, God uses language. In the beginning, He spoke our entire universe into being; and to this very day, He speaks. This is perhaps one of the most central encouragements in our Christian faith, that our God is not silent - He is personal, knowable and He communicates with us. Christians throughout church and Bible history have hung on to God’s revelation of Himself to us. He is our Good Shepherd and we, His sheep, hear His voice - we listen to it, we hear it, we believe it, we love it and we joyfully obey it. Hearing from our Father gives us life!
For those called by God to all the different parts of the mother-tongue Bible translation world, the belief that God speaks is central to why we all do what we do. From those who feel called to give and plant seeds of financial provision, to administrators/editors/trainers, to translators, to leaders and organizers - we are all united by the belief that God wants to reveal His truth and love through His Word translated into the heart languages of the nations. We have each received the unexplainable blessing of experiencing God’s grace as He reveals His truth to us and unblocks our eyes and ears to who He is and what the Gospel is. Because of Christ’s great love story, we all want to share that Good News everywhere the Holy Spirit leads.
A heart-warming example of God speaking through mother tongue translation happened in Zambia two years ago. Isaac was part of a mission trip to Northern Zambia, and he says that this experience profoundly moved him in his heart because he observed with his own eyes how God spoke to the hearts and minds of the people through the sharing of the Gospel in their heart language. They took the Jesus Film which had been translated into Bemba with them to Northern Zambia. He said it was a life-changing moment when the Holy Spirit began to touch the hearts and minds of the people who had come to the meeting. The Bemba people who were there were impacted deeply by the scene where Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, 'Do not store up for yourselves riches on earth’ - in Bemba it translates, 'You shouldn't desire to get rich at the expense of your soul.’ When the community heard this statement, they were extremely excited and amazed! People were cut to the heart. Some were crying. Some were silent and in awe. The word spread throughout the community, and they had masses of people flocking to the area for the rest of the mission. The experience amazed Isaac and has stayed with him ever since as he ponders just how powerful it is when people hear the truth of God's Word in their heart language! Language is powerful because God uses it!
TWFTW mother-tongue Bible translation projects have exploded in growth over the last few years with 136 projects in 2019 to 205 projects currently in 2022. God is on the move, and He is doing what He said He would do - build His church. What a thrill that we all can be a part of that! Considering how God led Nel Claassen to take a huge risk and travel into the unknown in Africa back in 1998, and how God led the founder of TWFTW, Dr Veroni Kruger, we can see that God speaks to His children in a number of ways. The Bible is His primary communication to us, as He illuminates the meaning of the Bible by His Holy Spirit. The Bible is the benchmark of truth by which we can compare all other things to see if they ring true. He also guides and speaks to us through His sovereignly arranging our circumstances in various ways through our lives. He also speaks to us through our consciences as He has promised to guide His sheep. He also uses other Christians to speak to us through encouragement in His truth, compassion and sharing of the Word with one another. And the most profound way He has spoken to us is through His Son. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, ‘In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days [H]e has spoken to us by [H]is Son, whom [H]e appointed heir of all things, and through whom also [H]e made the universe.’
We hear our Father’s voice most clearly when we spend time in Bible study and quiet contemplation of the things He has revealed to us about Himself. The more we know and understand about Him, the more we love Him, and the more we experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Giving people the gift of the Bible in the language most natural to them literally enables them to obey God’s commandment to ‘[l]ove the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ It is so moving to consider all the ‘forgotten’, less-populated language groups around the world who now have the opportunity to have their hearts awakened and able to express their love back to God. Yes, our God continues to speak, and He speaks to all who desire His Word!