OneWay’s BiblePlus team returned home this week from a 12-day trip to Ghana to record Christian content in two new languages, which will allow people in remote parts of Africa to hear Bible messages in their heart language for the first time.
Thanks to the generosity of ministry partners, they were also able to deliver 615 BiblePlus solar players, 500 SD cards filled with Scripture for mobile phones, and a Jesus Film backpack that can be used to show the evangelistic film to up to 500 people.
OneWay’s Pete and Beth Beckman were joined by Mike and his 16-year-old daughter on the trip. In this blog post, Mike's daughter* shares her experience helping record the Bible in the language of a people group that might not have access to the Bible in their heart language otherwise.
*name withheld for security reasons
Observations from a future linguist
First, it is an incoherent jumble. Then sounds distinguish themselves. Then separate words take form, though still meaningless. Then words are repeated over and over until meanings begin to float to the surface of the confused waters of my mind and burst into the light of understanding.
“Ashekah” is “said”
“Ifti” is “from”
“Yeme” is “God”*
Language is a beautiful thing. It is used for the most artistic expressions of the heart, yet it also has a mathematical aspect, analytical like a puzzle. The way a single word — though it has the same denotation as another — can change the entire impression of a sentence, a paragraph, a conversation, is captivating.
Language was one of the first things, if not the first, that God created (Genesis 1:3). Through Jesus (John 1:3), God spoke the heavens and earth into existence. Language was the beautiful agent of Creation. When sin entered the world, language was broken.
Words were the devil’s device to deceive Eve (Genesis 3:1). He took God’s lovely words and twisted, broke them, and with them the whole creation was twisted and broken.
At Babel, words were the tool of God’s wrath unleashed on humans’ sinful pride. God confused their languages, so humans were forced to separate (Genesis 11:9) and fill the earth as God intended them to (Genesis 1:28).
Ever since, people have been divided by language barriers. These prevent some people from having access to the saving words of God in Scripture that reveal who He is and how to be saved. But in a vision, God gave John the apostle a glimpse into heaven and, describing it, John wrote this: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”
God’s Word tells us that people from every language will worship Him in heaven. But how will that happen if there are those who have never heard His name because the Word of God has never been brought to them in their language?
This is what BiblePlus is doing; they are getting the Word of God into the hands of the people in every language group in Ghana. From providing access to translations of the Bible others have made, to providing additional material, like sermons, testimonies, and local praise and worship music. BiblePlus brings God’s Word to those who haven’t heard in both a language and a culture they understand.
As I sit in church after church and listen to the joy of the Lord in the voices of the choirs and see the passion that comes from the Holy Spirit in the faces of the pastors as God’s words pour out of their mouths, I am filled with awe at the incredible blessing it is to be a part of the recording process. I am also filled with a longing to understand the words they sing and preach.
And then I realize: this is nothing compared with the longing with which the unreached world waits for us to bring the good news of Jesus Christ.
And there is still much to do.
Just yesterday, here in Tuna, while recording for the Birifor language, the pastors were struggling while we recorded the Old Testament Bible stories, but were breezing through the New Testament stories. They explained to us that they have the New Testament in Birifor already, but the Old Testament had not yet been translated, so they had to tell those stories from memory.
This has been burning in my mind ever since. There is so much power in reading the Scriptures. In the book of 2 Chronicles, we read that when King Josiah found the scroll containing the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament, and read it, he was remorseful, tearing his robes and weeping for his sins. He then had it read to all the people of Judah, who responded similarly and turned from their sins (2 Chronicles 34:14-33).
Just reading the Word of God brought an entire nation back to the Lord; reading the Bible has the power to change lives. Yet we leave our brothers and sisters with only half the story.
Language is a good gift from God, and through this trip, He has stirred up a desire He had already placed in me: to use language for His fame amongst the nations, as I look forward to my first worship service before the throne of God in heaven.
*These words are in Anufo, the first language we recorded. The spellings are my phonetic guesses and could be incorrect.
To read more from their trip, go to the Beckman’s blog: https://leopardshark.com/ghana/.