B* and her husband, JS*, began work with an Asian people group in 2004. It includes 9 million people with 40 different dialects, so it can be difficult to communicate with them.
In the beginning, the couple’s team leader took them into the mountains where there are no Christians. B cried for all the lost people and was unsure of the impact she and JS would have. God reassured her, “You aren’t going to do it; I am.” From then on she was confident in God’s plan to use her among these lost people.
A Loss of Language
The first community they worked with had a 100-year history of Christianity but had turned back to their old religion. B and her team built relationships with them to provide for their needs.
The team members asked the church elders what they could pray for. The elders sobbed. What they desired most was the Bible in their own language. They didn’t know how they would share the gospel without it.
B and JS began to translate the Bible into this people group’s language. But there was an obstacle: they had no written language, also known as a script.
A few of these people are able to read Mandarin, but most are illiterate because there was no script. Another people group conquered these small kingdoms years ago and forbade the use of written language. For the translation, beginning in 2010, JS took the script from his dialect and created one for the villagers.
As JS was translating, the couple experienced many spiritual attacks. JS became ill every time he attempted a translation session—so ill that he couldn’t get up. The translator they partnered with had ongoing family issues. By 2013, JS and his partner were both so exhausted that they chose to stop.
B prayed for wisdom. They returned to the elders and asked if they wanted to continue. The elders did, so translation work resumed. B and JS prayed, and the next sessions were uninterrupted by illness or family crisis.
Everything began to fall into place, until JS began to experience another illness that temporarily paralyzed him.
They asked God for protection and tried again. Nothing happened at first.
Toward the end of that session, B put the dinner dishes in the sink. Usually she would wipe her portable stove top, but this time she decided to search for something first.
She walked away, and a loud bang vibrated from the kitchen. The stove had exploded. Glass littered the kitchen. She began to shake and sob as she cleaned, but she realized that God had foreseen the disaster and saved her.
Perseverance Amid Fear
The translation work continued. At a team meeting, B felt she should copy the translation. She gave a team leader the copy for safekeeping.
After B and JS arrived home, the computer crashed when he opened it. He lost all his files. He panicked because they were so close to finishing the New Testament. B remembered the copy. This gave them peace, and suddenly, the computer was fine.
In September 2014, the team had finished the New Testament. They attended another team meeting, and B decided to make another copy. However, the flash drive caught a nasty virus, and both of their computers crashed. The tech team at the meeting took four days to fix the computers and restore their files, but the flash drive was destroyed.
In May 2015, the four Gospels and a hymnal were finished to give the elders. The people still must learn to read their language, but the translations represent a milestone in getting the good news to these people. “The Holy Spirit’s guidance and the Lord’s protection was what made this happen,” B says.
Back in 2012, when they had translated John and Matthew, the elders began to use the translation in their church services. The first time they used it a member asked what had been done differently because he felt the Word come alive in his heart. There is now hope among these people because of this new translation.
“Satan didn’t want these people to get their double-edged sword,” B says. “But no matter what Satan does, God will protect us. There is no fear.”