As many of you will know, our colleague Mary Gardner was recently killed by a bomb explosion in Jerusalem. The manner of her passing was so unusual that it attracted a lot of attention from the press; all of a sudden, Mary became famous. I’ve spent a good deal of time this week talking to various media about Mary, including a few phone interviews with Christian media and four or five long calls from the Jerusalem post, who have published the best article I’ve read about Mary.
To be honest, it all seems slightly bizarre. For over twenty years, Mary worked selflessly amongst the Ifé people of Togo and the world’s press never batted an eyelid. Then for a brief moment she became the centre of a massive amount of international attention, which I’m sure would have embarrassed her had she seen it.
This isn’t really surprising; Bible translators are often unsung heroes. Even the Ifé New Testament that Mary worked on for so long does not have her name recorded in it anywhere. Bible translators are the opposite of media celebrities. There is no fame and fortune, just years of quiet, dedicated service so that other people can have the privilege of hearing God speak there own language. If there is any glory involved, it goes to God, not to the translator.
Currently, Wycliffe staff are translating the Scriptures into 1,525 different languages. That is something like three-quarters of all of the translation work which is being done across the world today. The people working on those translations are not famous; their friends and families know them, so do their supporting churches and they are greatly valued by the communities they are serving, but you are unlikely to see them on TV. However, little by little, patient verse by verse, God’s Word is coming alive in those 1,525 different languages. People are hearing God speak to them in a new way and the Kingdom is advancing.
That is better than fame, any day!
If you want to be famous, if you want to be on TV or to be recognised as you walk down the streets, if you want to be invited to the big parties and dine in the best restaurants; don’t join Wycliffe.
Then again, though we are working in 1,525 different languages, there are still almost 2,000 more without a single word of Scripture. How does the idea of a life of service, out of the public eye strike you? If not you, do you know someone else who should be considering service with Wycliffe?
Take a look at our ‘Give the Story‘ page and consider what you should be doing.