By Lindy Pate
Last year I spent countless hours in a room with several Mbore men. We listened to almost all of the New Testament, hearing each verse at least three times. They talked about spelling and what phrase should be used to describe the church. We discussed the implication of verses about the law and grace. We even talked about Roman architecture and the type of stone pavement in Pilate’s palace.
Seven or eight hours a day. Five days a week. Five weeks at a time. Until we took a short break and did it again. We were sick together. We drank coffee together. We laughed together. We took turns being tired, discouraged, excited. We were co-laborers in the arduous task of completing the New Testament.
I did not know their life stories and they did not know mine. In some cases, I don’t even know if their spouse was still living. We were working and I never bothered to ask.
Adolf joined the team partway through the work. He replaced someone else who couldn’t come anymore. As a substitute in the final quarter, he had the humility to recognize that he was stepping in to a project that was already underway. His part was to show up and represent his church and community. He always treated me with kindness and respect. He also adjusted the volume when the recording was too loud.
One day, all the speakers stopped working. I tried speaker after speaker without success. Only one set would work, but only if someone held the power button in the whole time. I think it was Adolf that held the button. I imagine his finger got tired, but he quietly did his job. That sounds like Adolf. He gently stepped in to carry things or open doors. He served without being asked. Persistent. Faithful. Humble. Kind.
He is one of several Mbore who died during the translation work. Some translators lost family members. Adolf and the others who died will be missed at the dedication of the New Testament. At least Adolf got to hear part of the New Testament in Mborena Kam. Soon his people will have the chance to as well. Pray for their hearts to be open. Pray for the word of God to impact their lives.
Lindy serves as a Bible translator.