This is indeed our calling, that when we follow Jesus we are “servants of the Word.” He is the Word! He speaks to us, through his Word that's written down and also through our Guide, the Counselor within. My inner ears will learn to carefully discern that precious voice that worms its way through all distractions and life’s noise to direct my daily actions, footsteps, and my words – to guide my growth in this profession, this divine and pure obsession, that I might learn how I can be a servant of the Word!
Being a “servant of the Word” can take different forms (cf. Luke 1.2, Rom. 1.2). The Scriptures were written by prophets, scribes, record-keepers, apostles and others. But each one had one thing in mind: to pass on the Truth that God was impressing on them.
My life story fits into that puzzle somewhere, as does yours if you are a follower of Jesus. For example, we each “must tell a future generation the praises of the LORD, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed.” (Ps. 78:4 CSB) Silence is not an option. And some of us he called to take his Word to a people not yet blessed with access to his Word. When Jim Gould, the first missionary to the Nyarafolo, died in 1965, I felt my heart nudged: “You need to carry on this work someday!” But I dismissed it; I was “just a girl.” In time the Lord made it clear that he was going to make it happen anyway.
When we went back to attend the celebration of the printed Nyarafolo Scriptures (NT + OT portions), July 31, I knew that one step I should take was to speak to the crowd in Nyarafolo. Why? Because every time I did something like that, those who did not yet know that this language was respected, written, even learned by a white foreigner, were astonished. It honored the Nyarafolo people; it delighted them. So I drafted a message, worked with my former Bible co-translator Moise to edit it, and wrote it in French for Glenn to use as my translator. Yes! It had that impact — Nyarafolos responded as I spoke, and afterwards a government representative told one of my friends how it wowed him. Often this is great publicity that draws new people to want to learn to read their language and use these Scriptures.
I posted a video of my speech, and you can watch it here, but only a few of you out there would be able to understand either language. So I have translated it into English below the video for you (I inserted an asterisk wherever there was a break for Glenn to speak). Here is the point I wanted to make: God loves the Nyarafolo and would not let them be left out — he has done all this to call them to himself!
I greet you: all of you who come from far away, and all of you who come from here in Ferkessédougou, as well as all of you who are the dignitaries — all you who came here to celebrate with us. *
Maybe some of you know that I was here in Nyarafololand during my childhood. My father and mother worked at the hospital here. When I was thirteen years old, God showed me that some day I should share the Good News with the Nyarafolo. But me, I thought that I could not do such work since I was female. (laughter in crowd). *
After all that, when my husband Glenn and I presented ourselves to the mission and said that we would be willing to go anywhere they would choose for us, they said they would send us to Ferkessédougou because Glenn would be able to direct the laboratory at the hospital there. When they told us that we knew that this indeed was God’s own will for us. *
When we arrived here in Nyarafololand, we began to learn Nyarafolo so that we would be able to share God’s Good News with them in their language. Wow! Nyarafolo is difficult! (laughter in crowd) But it is also really great! Glenn began to do his work at the hospital. I put myself doggedly into continuing to learn Nyarafolo. *
Now, forty years later, you have seen what God has accomplished among the Nyarafolo. The Nyarafolo language is now written (clapping). And there are lots of books available to help people who want to learn to read Nyarafolo. And God’s Word has been translated (clapping). This is it! (Printed Scripture book lifted) The Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the New Testament! (clapping) God’s Word is sweet. It helps people to know God, and shows them how they can walk the Jesus Road. Every day it truly helps me! *
As it is written in God’s Word, in the Book of Romans:
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Rom. 15:4 NIV) *
I thank God for all of this! He is the one who prepared the road, who chose certain people to be his servants who would translate his Word into Nyarafolo and teach people so that they could read it and know his Word. God, he is the one who made it happen that SIL personnel would help us accomplish this work. It was God who called out to believers in America and showed them how they could help this work to go forward, so they took up our load and provided funds. This is because God loves the Nyarafolo! And that is why he is calling them to come believe in Jesus. They must come and become his people! *
I also give thanks to God for placing me here among the Nyarafolo. It was precious to me to study Nyarafolo and to learn their culture. It was all a rich benefit for me.
As it says in God’s word, in the Book of Philippians:
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (Phil. 4:1 NIV) *
I am praying that God will call out to many Nyarafolos to come and buy his written Word, to know the Truth. May God put his good hand of blessing on you! May it be so! (Amen!)