By Diane Miller
On the way to church I commented to my friend and co-worker Martha Wade, who is a Bible translator, that I had a Hebrew assignment for her. I have been reading through a 365 Day Promise Bile that was my prize in last year’s local November trivia night where everyone gets a prize of some sort. That morning I read these words in Jeremiah 10:5 (NLV): “Their false gods are like a wooden man set up in a vegetable field to make the birds afraid and stay away. They cannot speak. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them. They cannot hurt you and they cannot help you.” I understood the meaning, but I just hadn’t expected to find a scarecrow in the Bible, so I began looking at some other translations. The New International Version says, “Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak: they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them: they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” Other versions talk about these idols being upright as a palm tree with no reference to scarecrows. Martha’s research into the Hebrew favored the palm tree versions, but no matter which of these ways the verse is translated, the idea is that idols are lifeless, mute, immobile and ineffective.
On our way home from church we heard about some false teachings that we are praying will be equally ineffective. On the way to church we picked up Diane, a TB patient from Martha’s village, and her sister Gertrude, who is helping take care of Diane while she is undergoing treatment at the hospital here in Madang. On the way home from church Diane told Martha about a man who had been going around the hospital encouraging people to pray, but not to God. Instead he encouraged them to pray in the name of their biological fathers. Diane did not think that was quite right and declared that God is her real father and her birth father is only her waspapa (a Pidgin word referring to a person who looks after another, but is not their biological father). Martha assured her she that she is right. We are praying that people will not believe Satan’s lies and that those in the hospital who are Christians will take a strong stand for the one and only true and living God who, unlike lifeless scarecrows, is all powerful and loves all mankind.
Diane serves by developing an elementary curriculum and helping with publications.