At the very moment God spoke the words, “... Let there be light: ...” (Genesis 1:3), everything changed! Darkness immediately gave way to light and from that point on, nothing would be the same. These words were more than air vibrating through the vocal cords; it was the voice of the Almighty penetrating the darkness. These four words not only illuminated the sky and lit up the horizon, but they brought forth days, seasons, and times. Without a doubt, these words changed everything.
Imagine for a moment: Jesus suspended between heaven and earth, nailed by His hands and feet for all to see; the Lamb of God, beaten, bruised, and bearing the total weight of every sin for all mankind. While in the midst of hell’s fury, man’s failures, and the forsaking of the Father, Jesus cries out these words, “... It is finished: ...” (John 19:30). The payment for sin was finally paid and fully satisfied. Would you agree with me that these words changed everything?
For me personally, there have been words in my life that have totally altered my path. I remember the day, standing at an altar across from the love of my life, saying the words, “I do.” A couple of years later she came to me and said these words, “Honey, I’m pregnant.” Another time, we were approached by a doctor after a series of testing with these life-changing words, “Your wife has multiple sclerosis.” These words changed everything. These same words are the title of a book by David Aeils. I was greatly inspired by the account of a missionary couple who were Bible translators working among the Chamula Indians of southern Mexico. At the time of their arrival, the Chamulas were an Unreached People Group who had isolated themselves from society. Also known as the “Impossible People,” their traditions, culture, and animistic beliefs demanded a resistance to all outside influences. There was no doubt that these young Bible translators had their work cut out for them. Forty-five years later, by the Grace of God, the diligent work of the translators, and the high price paid by many of the new Chamula believers, the Chamula people held a complete Bible in their hands for the first time. One of the Chamula Christians said this about the newly translated Bible:
“Emphatically, I declare that our ears were closed when we hear it in Spanish, but when we hear the Word of God in our language, it is though our lives, ears, and eyes are opened. Now God also speaks Chamula!”
Once a people group in total darkness, steeped in pagan worship, following a destructive path led by the shamans, living a life of poverty only to one day die and wake up in eternal flames; now a people group that has Light. Can you imagine what the Bible in their heart language did for the Chamula people? These words changed everything!” How I long for this story to be the same for every people group; but sadly, it is not. The truth is there are billions sitting in darkness needing a reliable and complete copy of God’s Word in their heart language. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, there are still 1,635 languages that have no Scripture in their language with no one working on the translation. The grim reality is that at least 1.5 billion people do not have a complete Bible in their language. This number escalates when you add those who only have a portion, or those who have a Bible, but it’s not a reliable translation. What if you could have a part in providing one Bible for one people group? Wouldn’t that be worth the time spent in prayer, the financial sacrifice, or the exchange of your life? For the sake of Christ and the glory of God, I believe with all my heart that would be a worthy cause! Wouldn’t it be awesome, at the end of your life, to be able to say that you helped provide a Bible to a Bible-less people group? How about multiple Bibles to multiple people groups? Providing the Words of Life in their language, those Words could change everything!
First Baptist Church of Milford was given a task forty-five years ago to print God’s Word. It took courage and it took faith to step out and trust God. Today, after printing over 180 million copies of God’s Word in about 55 languages, we stand at a new threshold of faith. God has led our pastor to start the FirstBible School of Translation. With over 2,000 languages that still need a reliable and readable Bible in their heart language, we must accept the task and launch out into the deep. Can we continue to have our daily devotions each morning while the millions of Zhuang people in China who pray to the mountains, the sky, the earth, and their deceased ancestors remain in total darkness? Are the 1.2 million Gujjar people of India less deserving than we are to have the Word of God in their language? Do we continue to ask God to bless our meals while the 3.5 million Banjar people in Indonesia slip off into eternity without even tasting one slice of the Bread of Life in their native tongue? What about those who speak Cham in Cambodia, Chittagonian in Bangladesh, the Rohingya in Myanmar, or Bantawa in Nepal? Is there hope for them?
As a church, we must embrace the vision and rally our efforts behind this great cause. The gospel must be published among all nations! They must read for themselves God’s redemptive plan and turn from their wicked ways. When this happens, their world view, their culture, their celebrations, their times of grief, their worship, their destiny, and much more will be completely transformed. We must pledge our lives and commit our ways for the task that lies ahead because these Words, the Words of the Living God, will change everything!