It is Possible! Holy Spirit-empowered, skilful hands, willing hearts and hardworking feet – this is what we looked at in our last blog. We also heard from a Diploma in Bible Translation (DBT) graduate who hadn’t believed it was possible for him to become a Bible translator because of his circumstances. He testified to the truth of how he had been spurred on in hope that while standing in God’s grace, and with a little bit of hard work, it was possible!
Some of us, like that DBT graduate, may feel insignificant in God’s expansion of His kingdom on earth. But God’s economy is unlike our human scales. What seems small and insignificant to us, is a blessing to God, who looks at the heart. The brother or sister who has fewer material goods, or education or opportunity can rejoice that God can provide all that is needed, according to His sovereign will, for His purposes on the earth. On the other hand, there are those in the family of God whom He has given resources, influence and privileged birth. And likewise, that brother’s or sister’s material comfort is for God’s grace to empower them by His Spirit to give and share in God’s work. They can ask for God’s wisdom, just like any other believer, knowing that we are all one in Christ, and God will guide them to give in ways that strengthen and support the whole body.
Romans 12: 4-8 tells us, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith; if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully”. This is the grace of God in which we stand as we seek to take His living Word to all tribes and tongues. Followers of Christ are individually called by God to fulfil His call on our lives – each one given gifts by the Holy Spirit. We no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who saved us out of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. We joyfully ask – what is it that You have called us to do, Lord?
If we look at the stories of Lydia and Theophilus in the Bible, we can see examples of how the Lord empowered these people to transform communities. There isn’t much written about each of them in the Bible, but from what is written, we can see that their support of Luke, Paul. and their friends had a profound impact on the formation of the early church, and the expansion of the Gospel. In this blog we will look at Lydia, and in Part 3 we will look at Theophilus. Acts 16: 14&15. “One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord”, she said, “come and stay at my house’. And she persuaded us”.
As a businesswoman and merchant of ‘purple cloth’, we know that Lydia was a woman of means and social standing. She was not just extending financial support, but also social connexion. It was a mutual blessing. She heard the Gospel and received Paul’s teaching from God’s Word. God opened her heart, and Paul and his friends were provided for in terms of what was needed for their support. Her whole household was baptised! Lydia may have been the first Gentile convert in Europe, and possibly the first
to open up her home for worship to the early European Christians! What a blessing it is to see this immediate connection that Lydia and her household had with Paul and the other believers! How she jumped into God’s call on her to be a major benefactor of the foundations of the formation of the church by supporting Paul and the other believers. It is beautiful to meditate on this simple truth of the interconnectedness of the different parts of the body in those early times; and similarly, it is encouraging to think about how God still works through relationship in our lives today.
At TWFTW, we believe that our call from God is to glorify Him through transformed lives by the power of His Word in everyone’s heart language. We believe that He has called us to empower indigenous persons and organisations for Bible translation. It is a profound blessing to see God call and equip local-language translators all over the world. We are impacted deeply by the generosity of God through brothers and sisters around the world who share what God has given them toward the work of heart-language Bible translation.
Recently, at the full Bible dedication ceremony in the Ethiopian Gamo language, God gave us a visual reminder of the body of Christ at work. Standing on the stage was a large array of different people in the body whom the Holy Spirit had empowered in different ways through different talents, gifts, and resources over decades to bring to fruition the first ever full Gamo Bible. There stood Gamo elders who had pioneered the work of the Gospel and endured much suffering through communist rule, local Bible translators, partners from overseas who had committed to this whole project from start to finish, local pastors from different churches, and TWFTW members some who had grown up in the area. All these standing together as one entity for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And, in a fractured world like ours, is this not an impossible thing for humans, which God made possible?