It happened every year on the morning of Ash Wednesday. Someone would stop a former co-worker from my former job to point out, “You have something on your forehead.” And he would explain that he had just come from church.
Not everyone got it. There would be blank stares in response. I admit it threw me off a couple of times as well. Back then the Lutheran church I attended wasn’t following the tradition of anointing with ashes. My co-worker was Catholic. He faithfully attended mass each Ash Wednesday for all the years I knew him. And happily spent the day with a smudge on his face.
There are places in the world where it takes great courage to openly show signs of your Christian faith. As reported in The Messenger, Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) recently renewed partnership with a language group in West Africa. They received the New Testament in their language over 10 years ago. The people were excited. “We no longer need an interpreter,” they rejoiced. “We can now read and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ directly in our own language.”
Today, crates of the printed New Testaments still sit unopened in storage areas. People in this language community want to use God’s Word. But many cannot read. And there are those who seek to persecute those who want to follow Christ.
The local Lutheran church is discreetly planning to provide literacy classes for those who wish to learn. Lutheran Bible Translators is partnering with the church to nurture Bible literacy.
Christians show their faith in many ways. Scripture tells us to be kind, compassionate, forgiving. To treat one another as we wish to be treated. But we are also to proclaim our faith, sharing God’s Word with those who do not know Jesus Christ.
The reminder of our mortality through the anointing of Ash Wednesday will be overshadowed by the joy of Easter Sunday and the promise of the resurrection. Share that promise with those without Scripture in their language, with those still struggling to come to faith. Learn more here.