When I trace his distinct fingerprints on the lives of partners, Nyarafolo friends, on the victories "somehow' achieved in time over insurmountable challenges, all I can do is to offer thanks. These are the songs in my heart that hum when I see the woman set free from the curse of barrenness, cast out of jealousy -- when I dance with the widows once unseen now given honor and status through jobs, when I hear the eloquent preaching on texts in Nyarafolo, once brushed aside as irrelevant, its speakers marginalized. Our dear Lord loves all peoples! It's true! So he called them "beloved," and opened the path to give them his Word. We all give thanks!
Two Sundays spent with fellow believers in village churches, a week of days filled with visits morning through evening, a dedication of translated Scriptures in Nyarafolo (the New Testament, Pentateuch and Psalms) — all of these precious moments incite gratitude! In the photo above, people are lined up to purchase their copy; Abdoulaye Ouattara, director of the translation project these past 4 years, is signing them. Excitement is everywhere!
When we began ministry in the Nyarafolo region over 40 years ago, we had absolutely no idea that it would result in so many wonderful outcomes. We were just “doing the next thing,” one step at a time. But looking back, we have to give God all the credit. He made us his servants, much loved and encouraged along the tough path. He brought others into our lives to work with us. And now there are so many stories to tell that we cannot condense them into one. There will be blogs to come! But we have to express the thanksgiving that is in our hearts, and this is what we can offer back to the one who has written this narrative.
Yesterday we had our Covid tests done, since we are to board our flight back to the U.S. on Thursday. It was a two-hour wait under four sets of canopies outside the testing center down in the oldest section of Abidjan. We were sitting next to a family with two boys, and I saw the youngest one showing his mother several pages of cartoon-like scribbles he had put in her little notebook, telling the stories behind them. I told the woman that he reminded me of my son Bryn (who was beside me, 34 years old) when he was that age, and we began sharing about our families and why we were visiting this country again. She is Ivorien, married to a Frenchman, and they had spent two weeks visiting family. When she heard that we had come for the Scriptures dedication, she burst into excited praise: “Rien n’est par hasard! C’est le Seigneur qui fait ceci!” (Nothing is by accident! The Lord has made this happen!) She said that she had become a believer in Jesus just two years ago, through a friend, and she was so thrilled to meet one of his servants. As we talked and I learned what her mother tongue was, Jula, I told her that our friend Moussa Diakite had translated the Bible into that language. She was overwhelmed with excitement! I gave her his phone number, and we hope that some day she will even be able to own one and hear the Word in her heart language.
It is a precious thing, to be able to hear the Lord speak through his Word in the language that is in your heart. What a blessing it is, all the Scripture translations that we get to choose from in English! May we never take that for granted, but read and meditate and be nurtured by his Word. And I pray that the Nyarafolo and the Jula will do so as well. It is not for nothing that the Lord made these things happen!
Present to God a thank-offering! Repay your vows to the sovereign One! Pray to me when you are in trouble! I will deliver you, and you will honor me!” (Ps. 50:14 NET)