Hello brothers and sisters,
For me, it is Saturday night here in Yangon and we have had yet another epic day hearing from the Kaang Chin Bible Translation Committee members and some members of the Kaang community.
Something happened to us so surreal, that we feel like we’re dreaming. I know people overuse and misuse the word “surreal,” but I could not think of a more appropriate word for how we all felt.
It seems we are just starting to comprehend what God is doing here in Myanmar through this work.
We are not only giving an entire people group the Bible in their own language, for the first time, but we are giving them a rally point for their entire culture.
There are not only thousands of Kaang Chin people in villages throughout the mountains of southern Chin State, but there has been a Diaspora of the Kaang around the world as they have been forced to leave their beloved Chin hills because of persecution and poverty.
Being with these lovely people it is easy to see their cultural identity is at the very core of their lives and continues to be wherever they live. According to their oral history songs, one of which they sang and interpreted for us today, they have survived as a people for more than two thousand years. In all of this time, they have never read a book or story in their own language.
If all we did today was hear this one song, that would have been enough to mark this day as unique in our lives. But there was more.
Many of the Kaang Chin speak several languages, but there are scores of them who speak Kaang Chin only and nothing more.
Today, after meeting a brand-new translation committee member, something wonderful and unexpected happened.
Ngui Thang, who was born and lives in a small village near Mindat, Chin State, told us how he has longed since the late 1980s to read the Bible in his native language.
He said, that after he became a true believer and disciple of Christ, he hungered to know and understand God’s word.
The words of the other languages he speaks, at least four, did not touch his heart and mind like the tongue he speaks every day among his own people.
“They did not inspire me or touch my heart like what it could be to hear God’s word in my native language,” he said through Pastor Naing Thang, who interpreted his words for us. Smiling with the joy of being part of this dream come true, I asked him how it felt to read the Scriptures that are now translated into his language.
I was shocked and delighted to hear that he had only just joined the work and had still not seen any of the Scriptures himself.
He was elected by the Kaang people to replace a committee member who had died, but he himself had been sick during the first two meetings and unable to attend.
His patience and humility were amazing to me but knowing this dream of his had still not been realized, I nearly jumped as I urged anyone in the room to hand him some of the translated work immediately.
It was all I could do not to rip the wrapping paper off this gift he was about to get myself. I’ve never been more excited to see anyone get anything like I was right then.
I asked for someone to get the man a computer or phone or find some of New Testament that had been checked for printing.
Moments later, Thang Hung, my friend from Kruk village, jumped up and grabbed some papers off a nearby desk and put it in his hand.
I asked Ngui Thang to read what he saw out loud from the page in front of him.
Providentially, it was James 1.
My own tears started flowing as I and saw his eyes sparkle with the joy of what he was seeing for the very first time. Although I cannot speak Kaang Chin, I could see that his unquenchable smile was distorting his words as he read them and wondered at the sound of them in his own ears.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
The scattered people James wrote to were like his people, the 20 years of trials they had endured trying to produce this first part of their own Bible had been perfecting them too.
Committee member after committee member had just told us how excited they were to start their work nearly twenty years ago in 2000, but their own deep poverty, lack of help, and the deaths of several committee members had made them hopeless that they would ever see the Bible become a reality.
“But when you came and said you would help, it is like it has all been reborn for us,” one man said. “By God’s grace we will complete it all, you have given us hope again where we had none.”
This only happened a few hours ago and still in my heart, as I lay on my bed typing these words, I am standing with my hands raised singing the doxology.
Will you stand with me now and sing it for all the goodness of God to allow us to share in His glorious work.
“Praise God from whom all blessing flow, praise Him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”