What do you do if you want to communicate with a people group with no written language?
How would you explain scriptural truth if there is no means by which to communicate this truth? What if your examples of truth were meaningless because they didn’t understand your cultural references?
These are just a few of the assessments that need to be considered before attempting to communicate. How would you understand their cultural references and their current belief system? To truly come alongside a people group and gain enough wisdom and understanding requires nothing less that complete and total dependence upon God, and a lifetime of commitment. Yes, how good that our great and extraordinary God does amazing things through ordinary people!
We have spent our lives with and among this precious people group, beloved in the sight of God, working to understand and learn their culture. Over the past forty years, we have been able to create a written language, teach literacy, translate the Scriptures, teaching them the Bible, and teach literacy. What a joy to see pastors raised up who shepherd the believers. And yes, by God’s huge GRACE and strength we have been able to see these things accomplished by His mighty Spirit. All praise be to God!
So, what must be done to accomplish these monumental tasks?
- First, we needed to create a written alphabet as well as a writing system to properly and carefully translate an oral language. This particular people group had no system for writing, and we needed to create the needed orthography.
- Then we had to carefully examine the Scriptures in order to understand and properly translate them using cultural references that made sense to this people group. Factors to be taken into consideration were linguistic, ideological, cultural, hierarchical, and many other factors. Every decision carried ethical and theological consequences!
- And finally, literacy. For once we gained an understanding of their language and culture, and once we created a written language for them and began translating the Scriptures, we also launched a program to teach them to read and write in their own glorious language!!
This task has been our life work. Please take a look at the pages which detail this dear people group’s cultural illustrations, vocabulary, and ideas for expressing God. You will get a clear look into our lives, and the lives of these precious people for whom it has been our immense blessing to shepherd into His Kingdom.