My wife and I visited Liberia in March just before the COVID-19 virus was making its impact known on travel. The purpose was to attend the dedication of New Testament – the Gola language community celebrating the Bible in their hands in their own language for the first time!
The joy of that moment was built upon a string of tragedies in the late 1960s that included being in a tough tropical context, missionary families had to leave due to illness, a turnover of local translators, and when a civil war broke out everything came to a stop.
After the war, Father Garry, an elderly Catholic priest who had remained in Liberia through the unrest, insisted (and persisted) that the Gola language community still needed God’s Word in a form they could understand. This time, because of technology and all the previous history upon which to build, the New Testament was completed in less than four years. It was time to celebrate! God used many people so that His Word might reach others.
I brought back several copies of the New Testament and sent one to each of the early missionary families to acknowledge the parts they played.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).
God uses each of us that His Word might go forth and serve together in the story of God’s salvation through Jesus. It is a wonderful purpose that God gives us, one with a certain future and a certain hope.
The Gola New Testament took more than 40 years start to finish. But even through sickness and war, God was faithful. In March it arrived in the Gola language community. The Gola people now have hope through Jesus.
God uses us all in this story—for His purpose. There is no better story.
Photos courtesy of Lutheran Bible Translators