“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV)
When my wife, Dallas, and arrived in Cameroon, West Africa, Léonard Bolioki was already translating the New Testament for the Yambetta people, a small group numbering about 8,000 people.
From time-to-time Léonard would send Dallas and me updates on translation progress. Following the publication of the Gospel of Matthew, the first fruit of translation, he wrote, “The Yambetta people now have access to the Light of the World, the Good News, the Savior, Jesus Christ. This Light is the path of life freely given by God.”Léonard vision for translation endured for over 35 years under very difficult circumstances—a horrific fire that severely burned his wife, Marie, the loss of his son, Tonton, at 10 years of age in a motorcycle addicent, personal illnesses, financial crises, and community strife. His hard work and commitment culminated in the dedication of Yambetta New Testament in November of 2017.
One year later almost to the day, I received word that Léonard had died suddenly. His journey at an end. He had fulfilled one of God’s primary plans for his life as the translator of God’s eternal Word for his community.
I have often wondered what God would have done had Léonard said “no” to this call on this life. No one would have blamed him had he’d walked away during times of hardship and even persecution. Would the Yambetta people have the New Testament Would God have tapped someone else on the shoulder?
But Léonard said “yes” to God’s call, and God fulfilled His plan for Leonard’s life. As I sit here writing this I am imagining his arrival in Heaven—a reunion with his son, for sure, and people from Yambetta who are there because they heard the Good News of the Gospel because they’ve heard and understood the Good News in a language they understand best.
While Léonard died suddenly, it was not a surprise to God when he arrived in his presence. Quite the opposite. Every day planned for Léonard was written by God before one of them came to be. I believe there was great joy when he arrived, and, then a “well done” from the one who knew Léonard from the foundations of the earth.