Wednesday, November 19, 2014

but not Isaiah

I opened my computer one morning and started up a translation program I use to produce Scripture resource materials for the *Na people, a minority language group in a South East Asian country.  I chose a familiar memory verse to go with the story of Christ’s birth from Isaiah’s 9th chapter:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder...

I typed in the reference, ready to copy the verse from the Na version into my document.   
Instead, four chilling words punctured an otherwise blank screen.   

Book does not exist.

I sat stunned as it sank in that the book of Isaiah does not exist in the Na language.   

In 2011 our family lived for a week in a Na village.  

 The Na people  shared their homes with us, cooked for us, worshiped together with us in their local church, produced their very first VBS with us, and laughed with us at our feeble attempts to speak their unfamiliar language.   

They have the entire New Testament,  the translation of Genesis is complete,
 and Exodus and Daniel are now being printed.   

But not Isaiah.   

And there’s still no Micah or Deuteronomy.  
 No Nehemiah or Kings.  
 Most of the Old Testament is still a closed book to them.  

The Na people do not know, they have not heard, that the Creator of the ends of the earth does not grow weary, or that to those who have no might He increases strength.  (Is 40:28-29) 

They’ve never heard the majestic Messianic prophecies from Isaiah 53, of the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, the one on whom was laid the iniquity of us all.   

Though their righteous deeds are like filthy rags (Is 64:6) they don’t know to ‘come now and reason together’ to be washed whiter than snow (Is 1:18).  

I’ve begun reading Isaiah again with deeper gratitude than ever before.   I’m also all the more thankful for the faithful partnership so many of you have shared with us as we, in our new roles in missions, support translators who work to erase those terrible words,  

Book does not exist.  

Together let’s make God’s Word known in every language so that every tribe, every tongue may know the One who came as ‘a light for the nations,’ that His salvation ‘may reach to the end of the earth!’  (Isaiah 49:6)

“The grass withers, the flower fades, 
but the word of our God will stand forever.” 
Isaiah 40:8

*Na is a pseudonym for security reasons.

**Note: Traditionally Bible translators have focused on translating the New Testament first, but there’s a growing appreciation for the importance of Old Testament Scripture in understanding the Gospel.

1 comment:

Rosalie said...

Wow. We're so much more blessed than we realize. I love Isaiah. It's been a tremendous encouragement in my life. And I can pick it up anytime and read it. Thank you for your touching expression of this great need Barb! It's made me more thankful, and also more committed to praying for translations to be completed. Going to read in Isaiah tonight. Thank you Lord.