Dave Gullett

a miscellanea

An Amazing Moment

Every now and then you are allowed to be part of something truly incredible, something so magnificent that words fail you, you’re overwhelmed and reluctant to share it, out of fear that the telling would somehow rob the moment of its beauty.

I witnessed a moment like this a week ago Wednesday, in the village of Tondangow on the front porch of a modest house on the main road through town.

Like all the most important moments in life there were no fireworks or marching bands, no banners streaming in the wind and no master of ceremonies calling attention to where it is needed, wanted or perhaps deserved.

If you had happened to have walked by the house that day (and were not from the village, for all there knew why we had come) you would have perhaps thought we were old friends, business partners or maybe just passing time because we were lost or had car trouble.

There were about twelve of us on the porch that day and, though some children would poke their heads out of the windows, and a few dogs and chickens created a ruckus in the yard, we were focused on the task at hand, because of the weight of its importance.

Two men, maybe in their sixties, sat at a small table pouring over notes with the utmost attention. Two ladies and a gentleman from the village sat to their left, on the other side of a smiling man, who had delight in his eyes.

Across from this group we sat, honored to be there even though they claim they were honored by our attendance.

After a time of prayer and some instructions, the man from the village picked up his paper and read these words:

In toro ni tiu, si kaisar mahperénta péléng am wanua kinawasa né Romawi, é maka ngaran Agustus. A sia méhé um perénta im péléng sé tou wana am wanua itii én ipantik a nagaran néra.

The language of that sentence may be unfamiliar to you, but spoke directly to the man and his friends. You might be more familiar with these words:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

It is of course, verse one of Luke chapter two, which those three from Tondangow were reading in their own language, Tombulu, for the first time ever. If any moment deserved fanfare, this one did; but some great moments come quietly.

The two men with the notes are translators working on bringing the Word of God to these people, who despite having a church and a minister, despite worshiping as any of us might do, and despite having a “Christian” culture that is many decades old, do not have the Scriptures in the language they speak day to day, in the language they understand best.

The church without a knowledge of and devotion to the Word of God is, at best, a social club and, at worst, a cult. It is only through the efforts of these translators and others like them that believers like the ones in Tombulu can fully grasp the Word and the God who reveals himself through it.

Please pray for both the team as they continue their work of translation and revision until they can complete a Tombulu New Testament whose language is accurate, clear and beautiful.

And pray for the peoples who speak Tombulu, that the translation will strengthen those who truly believe and lead others to follow Christ as their God.