I recently came across a history of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church here in Concordia, Missouri. It was an interesting read, telling of challenges, changes, tragedies and triumphs. But the need and desire to worship and share God’s Word overcame all obstacles, developing into a ministry that is still alive and vibrant over 150 years after the first congregation gathered together in the 1840s.
There’s a story about another church that is also worth sharing. In 2019 LBT missionaries Elliot and Serena Derricks made their first trip to visit the Subula people of Cameroon. This is another community that has a need and desire to worship God and they fervently want to have Scripture in their own language. They’ve had to deal with obstacles and challenges, too. In fact, because there is an element of risk to Christians in this area, Subula is actually a pseudonym used for this language group.
During that first visit, a large crowd surrounded the Derricks’ car, singing and dancing in 106-degree heat as they escorted Elliot and Serena to a church packed full of people. There the president of the Subula Language Committee addressed the crowd. “This work of Bible translation and literacy isn’t for us. Look beside you at your children and your neighbor’s children—this work is for them! We are old and may never have the opportunity to hold a complete Subula Bible in our two hands, but we pray and hope that our future generations will!”
We cannot know the impact God’s Word in the Subula language will have. To paraphrase the author of the St. Paul’s history, it is God alone who can bless people as they labor to bring the heartfelt joy of forgiveness in Christ to succeeding generations. It is our prayer that this generation of Subula speakers and those who follow will experience that heartfelt joy as they worship together in a growing Christian community—just like the first children to worship at well-established churches like St. Paul’s, and their grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Thanks be to God for those who came before us and those who carry on the work of proclaiming Christ throughout the world! And thank you for your prayers and gifts that make Bible translation a reality for language communities eagerly waiting for Scripture in a language they understand.