In 2011, LBT’s former executive director Dr. Marshall Gillam spoke at a church in the St. Louis area. As he was visiting with members of the congregation, he was approached by an African man he had not previously met. “He introduced himself as Rev. Amos Bolay, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia. When I told him who I was, a broad smile came to his face,” said Dr. Gillam. “His very next comment was ‘Thank you for giving us the New Testament in our language.’”
Rev. Bolay is a speaker of Bandi, a West African language. At the time of his meeting with Dr. Gillam, eleven years had passed since the dedication of the Bandi New Testament. “There are often expressions of thanks at the time of a dedication service,” Dr. Gillam remarked. “It is fairly rare to be thanked so many years later!”
Fast forward to 2019. The Bandi New Testament has been sold out for well over a year. There is a huge outcry for a reprint so that Bandi churches can continue evangelism, literacy and preaching among the 131,000 speakers of the language.The Bandi have one version of the New Testament in their language—ONE—and it is no longer available.
This Thanksgiving many of us will attend worship services, then gather with family and friends around the turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie. At some point the question “What are you thankful for?” will come up.
How many of us will answer, “I’m thankful that I have God’s Word in my own language?”
To be honest, I don’t remember anyone offering that answer around my family’s Thanksgiving table. Having Scripture available in our language was something we took for granted. There are 20 million Bibles sold in the U.S. each year—including over 50 versions in English. We had multiple copies at my house. It was unimaginable to not have a Bible on hand.
As you give thanks this year, take a moment to reflect on how privileged we are to have God’s Word at our fingertips. Please consider a gift to Lutheran Bible Translators on Giving Tuesday, when we’ll be raising funds to reprint the Bandi New Testament, the Yala New Testament in Nigeria— also sold out—and for the first printing of the New Testament in the Shekgalagari language of Botswana.
Millions of people around the world are waiting for God’s Word in a language they can understand. Help us put Scripture in their hands.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook for the latest Giving Tuesday updates. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!