(From YWAM Frontier Missions) – There are 7,100 languages spoken on earth today, and approximately 1,600 languages still do not have a single verse of Scripture translated. This is the true story of two Bible translators, Leo and Tori, who traveled to one Asian country to work with a Bibleless, unreached people group called the Alze* (name changed for security). The Alze mostly live in tribal villages in the mountains on the outer edge of this country. The first thing Leo an Tori had to do was to learn the national language of that country. You must learn the national language in order to even do simple things like rent an apartment, buy groceries, travel by taxi, etc. They planned to create a set of Oral Bible narratives in the language of the Alze. Their hope was that soon God’s Spirit would speak to the people’s hearts, through His Word, in their own language.
The tribal language is spoken by thousands of people but has never been written down. Leo and Tori wanted to live among the people as they began their work. Unfortunately, government restrictions prevented them from living in this mountainous region. Their best option was to live in the provincial capital. All the schooling for these people is in the national language. With no schooling in their own language, university students must go to the capital. There, some Alze students heard the Gospel and came to Christ.
The Good News has been spreading. One percent of the country has come to Christ already. We praise God! New believers join local fellowships, read the Bible and pray. Yet it is all in the national language—not their own heart language. Was it worth the effort to spend so much time learning the language of a small tribal group and then recording these Bible stories?
One day Leo and Tori traveled out to a village where they found two 17-year-old Alze girls who were already believers. They talked to their parents. The parents agreed that the girls could go and work for Leo and Tori, cooking and cleaning in the mornings. In the afternoons, they would teach Leo and Tori Alze, and help with the translation process.
Leo and Tori started learning Alze. This was challenging. They had only recently learned the main language of the country. First, they had to teach the girls how to teach them! Most likely no outsider had learned this tribal language before. After a while, Leo and Tori asked the girls to teach them how to pray in Alze. The girls looked at the floor in embarrassment. They didn’t know how to pray in their own mother tongue. They’d never done it. They’d only prayed in the national language. They wondered how they could be sure God could understand Alze? No one else could understand Alze. Would God really be able to understand them?
So Leo and Tori helped them to translate some simple prayers into Alze:
“I love You God.”
“I need You to help me today God.”
“God, You’re so good to me.”
“God, I’m sorry for the wrong things I’ve done.”
They learned eight simple prayers in Alze.
Soon after, Leo and Tori invited some university students for lunch. They always prayed before eating so this time they asked one of the girls to pray in Alze, thanking God for the food. She prayed. The next day Leo asked the other girl to pray and add any words that they didn’t know yet. The day after, the first girl prayed again. Once she started she didn’t want to stop. In fact, Leo had to ask her to stop because the food was getting cold!
Later, the second girl went to Leo very distressed. She asked Leo not to be angry with her and not to fire her. Leo asked her why he would want to do that. She told him that when she came to work for them she wasn’t really a Christian, but her friend was. She told him that she thought they wouldn’t hire her if they knew she wasn’t a Christian. But something happened. The previous week Tori told her that God speaks Alze, and that God longs to hear her talking to Him in her heart language. That very evening, she went home and asked Jesus into her heart. When she knew that God spoke her heart language, she wanted Him to live in her heart.
And so we get a hint of what is yet to come. This story WILL continue! Stay tuned!