In the Andes mountains of Peru, in a town called Abancay, a 12-year-old boy has just received one of the greatest treasures that he will ever receive – the Scriptures in his mother tongue. My wife, Dallas, and I had the privilege, along with several friends, of traveling by bus from Cuzco up and over two mountain ranges and down into Abancay to attend the celebration of this boy’s Eastern Apurímec Quechua New Testament.
One of the friends with us was Johnnie Moore, Vice President for Communications at Liberty University. Johnnie was sitting in the back of the room during the long, exuberant celebration when he noticed a copy of the New Testament on the plastic chair in front of him. That was his first glimpse of the Book, and since the 12-year-old owner was quite engaged in the worship service, Johnnie decided to reach down and grab the Book and take a look at it.
Out of the corner of his eye, the young boy saw him reach for the New Testament. He turned around and gave Johnnie a stern look. Then he pointed his finger at Johnnie and waved it from side to side, clearly meaning, “Don’t you mess with my Bible.”
Johnnie says, “He didn’t speak my language and I didn’t speak his, but the message was loud and clear. That was a precious jewel that he had been given. I sat there and thought, ‘Who is this kid going to be one day? What is he going to do for God, what is he going to do for his country, and what can he do now that he can read those words?’ He was one of the first children in all of history to own an Eastern Apurímec Quechua New Testament. I will never forget the experience.”
After the song service ended, the boy sat down, and Dallas happened to be sitting next to him. The boy held his shiny Bible quietly on his lap, not fidgeting or squirming. When the pastor instructed the congregation to turn to 2 Timothy 3, the boy started turning the pages from the front of the New Testament. Dallas leaned over to help him. He let her find 2 Timothy, but then he gently moved her hand aside and searched for the chapter and verse himself. He began to follow along with the pastor, his finger moving under each syllable of Quechua. People behind him leaned over and followed along with him.
This boy was equipped to start using his New Testament immediately because of a literacy program run by AIDIA*, a Peruvian-run organization focused on transforming the Apurimac region through the translation and application of God’s Word in Quechua. In fact, he was even conducting a literacy class of his own, his little finger running under every syllable, with Quechuan grandmothers and Johnnie Moore leaning over his shoulder, learning to read as they compared the audible word with the printed word.
Clearly this was not the boy’s first encounter with the Good News, but on that day in May 2013, Jesus sat down beside him in that row of plastic chairs, and gently, clearly spoke into his heart in a whole new way.
*AIDIA is an acronym for “Asociacion Interdenomicacional Para el Desarrollo Integral de Apurímac.” In English, that’s “Interdenominational Association for the Integral Development of Apuíimac.”