Translation and the Art of Humility

Posted on Posted in Mixed Nuts

By Todd Owen

I was sitting one afternoon under my house in a beach chair, legs propped up on the generator, talking with a few friends. We had just finished a checking session on the early chapters of Luke’s Gospel. The guys were asking me about my years as a student (as if they are ever really finished). “How many years?” they asked. It took me a minute or two to figure it up. “20 years, I should think.” They chewed on that. Education is just as much a premium commodity here in Papua New Guinea as it is anywhere. Most local kids don’t start first grade until they are old enough to walk the 4 to 6 kilometers to and from school. That means that many don’t start school until they are pre-teen. I watched the guys chew on this and recognized an opportunity to honor and encourage them, speaking some much needed truth.

“Listen. Education is a tool for ministry. God knew that we’d be here together today checking the draft of Luke’s Gospel. One of us needed to have the schooling and experience to be able to oversee this work. Others of us needed a deep understanding and control of the Somau Garia language, else this would all be for nothing. All of us need a relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–God Triwan (God the Three-in-One). He knew that in order for his word to be known here, there would need to be believers who know this culture, who are born and die here, who keep gardens and who have a [respectable] name among those who do not know Him. My education is a very small part of all this. It takes all of us. I need you and you need me. We must have unity for God’s word to be translated and known. We must have unity if people are going to be changed and walk as Jesus did. We must honor one another above ourselves or else we won’t have unity.”

Moments like these remind me that I’m the recipient of many gifts given by my heavenly Father. These gifts were not given to me to be used for making a name for myself or to gain material wealth. They were not meant to empower me to lord my influence over others. May it never be! I was given these gifts in order to become a source of blessing to others, a tool in the hands of the Master. The gate from which these gifts flow is humility. Humility in Somau Garia society begets unity. In godly unity is found blessing, cooperation, and greater joy.

Shall we choose this day to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate a deeper humility in us? Shall we cry out to God to show himself through our words and actions? Let us, with one mind, choose to count others as more important than ourselves–that Jesus’ name might be known and honored in all the earth.

Todd is a bible translator.

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