Translators through the Generations
October 3, 2022

The Lord has planted good seed in the Gamo region of Ethiopia. He has called His sons and daughters in Ethiopia to grow and produce a ripe harvest for the Lord. This land has produced profoundly inspiring Christ followers who have been sustained through much trial by the almighty hand of our God. The story of what Paulos, his brother (Tesfaye) and his nephew (Tesfaye’s son, Theophilus) have lived through as Christians, Bible translators, preachers and Gospel workers shakes us from our comfortable slumber. Their testimonies reveal to us that God will hold us fast, and His Word will not return void!

Paulos is now in his late 70’s or early 80’s, and he and Tesfaye recount their experiences of the difficult road the church has walked in their area. Before the communist party came into power, there were missionaries in the Gamo area. The community enjoyed attending lively churches and had plenty of Bibles in the national language. When the communist rule came into their lives, Christians were beaten, flogged and told to renounce Christ. They were jailed, made to drink poison and yet, they did not die – nor did they renounce Christ. In a field in their area, all the Bibles were burned.

With the missionary buildings abandoned, the Bibles gone, and church services and any form of Christian practice made illegal, we would think that all was lost…

But, God’s sovereign hand brought an end to their suffering and an end to communist rule. Paulos recalls how the church went through a period of explosive growth - everyone wanted to hear about Jesus Christ, and they desperately wanted to go to church. They doubled in number! Then the Lord led TWFTW workers to the area, where they connected with Paulos and other Christians and decided to translate the Jesus Film into Gamo. When they saw and heard the Gospel in their own language on the movie screen, it brought about another huge wave of God’s truth and love into the community. Many put their trust in Jesus Christ! Paulos recalls that the place where this film was shown was the very field where the Bibles had been burned and the Christians had suffered so severely. The cost had been high; but the fruit of God’s sustaining power brought Paulos a sense of deep reverence and awe at what God can do, and who He is.

Tesfaye also became a translator with his brother. His son, Theophilus, grew up watching his father and uncle, these two great men of God, working diligently with God’s grace towards translating the New Testament into Gamo. In 2012, the Gamo New Testament was released to the community with 10 000 people offering extravagant praise and celebration to the God who sees and loves them - enough to bring them the New Testament in their most natural language. Glory to God! And once again, Paulos and Tesfaye observed that the field where this celebration happened was the same field where they had suffered so many years before, and also the field where the people had first heard the Gospel in Gamo through the Jesus Film. On that redemptive day, the head translator said, while holding the New Testament high above the people, “God has taken His revenge, through love”.

But God was not done yet. In August 2022, Paulos witnessed the mighty hand of God bring about the completion of the Old Testament into the Gamo language. The ceremony was weighty and deeply meaningful with a tangible sense of the immensity of what God had brought his people through to come to this point, and the responsibility that was now firmly in the hands of the next generation. 30,000 copies of the whole Bible were released to the community! Over the years, Paulos had gone on to become the head of the review committee, and his nephew, Theophilus, has become a strong Christian pillar in their community as a pastor who is also one of the Gamo translators for the Old Testament and spoke powerfully at the dedication of the full Bible in Gamo.

Paulos, Tesfaye and the other elders in the community have now imparted their passion and dedication to God to the next generation, with a full Gamo Bible in hand, and the fruit of it is to God’s glory. Our Father has sustained and loved Paulos and blessed his legacy in ways that will echo for eternity in the lives of every Gamo believer.

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