My friend and colleague, Rev. Peter Munguti, is the national director of Bible Translation and Literacy in Kenya. He made this post recently on FB of the Samburu people people celebrating the arrival of God’s Word in their language. Peter reports that during the ceremony it was declared by the Samburu people, “God is no longer a foreign God…today he speaks Samburu!”Those of us on staff at Wycliffe Bible Translators USA hear this story repeated again and again as the Living Word arrives and moves into the neighborhood, and dates back to experiences in the Old Testament.
Nehemiah reports, “On October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law…Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground…And the Levites quieted the people, telling them, ‘…this is a sacred day.’ So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” (Nehemiah 8:2-3, 6, 11-12 NLT)
The arrival of God’s word is always a “sacred day.” It’s not because of the arrival of a book…it’s because of the joy experienced when God’s word is understood. Faith comes by hearing and understanding, resulting in great joy and worship of the author.