Our pocket money would pay the teacher
The process of creating the font (written form of the language), followed by the translation of the Bible, is taking place in a language group called “Omba.” (‘Omba’ is a pseudonym used to reduce the risk to the missionaries, Ed.). This area is situated near the Indian Ocean, near the border with Somalia. Somalia is dominated by terrorism, its government has failed, and 99% of the population is Muslim. Therefore it is almost unbelievable that in this, one of the poorest areas of Kenya, there is now a living community with five Christians. Director of Wycilife-Slovakia, Jaro Tomášovský, describes the situation encountered by Wycliffe missionaries there. “When we first arrived, the locals refused to have anything to do with us. God gave us a different strategy—these people are desperate for education and information; they want their children to go to school, and to be able to find jobs, so that they can help their country. When we said we wanted to build a school, they let us come.”
Initially, the children came to school every day, but as time went by, fewer and fewer came. The Wycliffe missionaries did not understand why the children were dropping out of school when the locals craved education. They discovered the reason was because of rampant poverty. The children were so hungry they were not able to reach the school. “Most children receive only one meal every three days, so they were too weak to go to school. Wycliffe decided to establish a school nutrition program—if a child came to school, he/she would always get a meal,” Brother Tomasovsky explained. “Often, we do not realize how privileged we are. Has it ever occurred to us to wonder whether we have enough to eat at home? Is not our biggest problem choosing which foods we’d like to eat?”
The fact is there are many areas in the world where people wonder if they will have enough to eat. What is really inconceivable is the fact that to feed one child for a whole month costs less than ten euros! Our ‘pocket money’ (20-60€), can pay the salary of a teacher in Africa for a month. And this man educates fifty children. Director of Wycilife-Slovakia, J. Tomasovsky continues the call: “The next time you think you can’t do anything to help, the opposite is true. There’s something we all can do—believe it!” When we study or work, we shouldn’t think only of ourselves; we should think of where God is leading us and what we can do for others. We, the Slovak Lutherans, have God and His Word in our lives; and thanks to this—we can do something! “In this view, we should look at ourselves and to each other to see what our role is in God’s vineyard; wherever He sends us, share His love!”
To Serve in Forgotten Areas
A wonderful illustration of someone who is eager to serve God is the story of a pastor in a country in Africa. This pastor cannot read or write at all. You may wonder, how can he be a minister when he cannot read the Bible? What does he teach people in his church if he is not able to study? The answer is pleasantly surprising. The preacher listens to a Saturday night Bible radio program in his mother tongue. This program provides the weekly sermon of another pastor, one who serves in linguistically ‘forgotten’ areas. And so this man sits next to the radio every Saturday night and listens to the program so he can use the same words the next day at church to encourage the faith of his brothers and sisters. “It is unbelievable that the Lord has used this man in this way,” says Jaro Tomasovsky and adds: “God can use anything, even a simple radio program, to help create a Church with 200 members.”
Wycliffe needs people—translators, linguists, and workers in literacy. However, it is also looking for people of different professions from all over the world, including Slovakia. “We are looking for people who will be involved in this ministry who will teach and train others. People who, instead of working on their own translation of the Bible, could help others make the translations more effectively.”
Financial resources are necessary so that those who work directly on the mission field can perform their service. Individuals, companies, and congregations are needed to help finance the work of Wycliffe missionaries. It is no secret that these resources are often insufficient.
A service that all Christians can and should be a part of is prayer support. Wycliffe reiterates that “the essential foundation of missionary service is prayer.” “Even the children we minister to are called upon to become partners of the ministry through their prayers. Although they, too, are part of the Wycliffe service,” J. Tomasovsky adds. Eventually, we all are called to pray for all missionaries (I Thess. 5:17).
In conclusion, Reverend Machira thanked the students of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Žilina, and encouraged them to note that the “path of faith is a spiritual battle,’ and the one thing that everyone can do is pray. “Missionaries are in every country, and sometimes the job is very frustrating.” Sometimes missionaries wonder if it’s all worth it. Other times they think about returning to normal life….These doubts are exactly the part of their service into which our prayers should enter. “There is nothing as encouraging to missionaries as prayer,” said Brother Paul Machira, adding that “the prayer that begs for strength for the missionaries and calls their specific names, are the strongest.”
Our mission as well…
To provide a translation of the Bible into all languages is one of the missions of the Church. After all, to make disciples of all nations is Christ’s command (Matthew 28:19). To do that, we must bring the Bible—the Word of God—to all nations in their own language. Our participation in spreading the gospel “to the ends of the earth,” should be accompanied by supplying aid to our neighbors. After all, evangelism and social activity are great privileges of the Christian, and are always complementary and mutually necessary.
Therefore, we should continue in prayer that, out of God’s grace, these overlooked nations will soon be able to learn to read the Bible in their own language.
Hedwiga Tkáčová <><
PROFILE of Paul Machira
Reverend Paul Machira is a missionary in Kenya. According to his own words, he is married to his ‘best friend,’ with whom he is raising three children, aged two to eight years. He is one of the main organizers of the “Run for the Bibleless,” through which he seeks to inform the general public in Kenya of the needs of their countrymen who have not had the good fortune to have their own language in a written form. Through this event, they are seeking to stimulate interest and obtain the means to provide for translation work. It was Machira’s zeal and enthusiasm for God’s word that inspired Wycliffe-Slovakia to invite the Reverend to Slovakia. In October, P. Machira visited Christian schools and churches throughout Slovakia.