I don’t know what your stereotypical view of a cross-cultural missionary is; it almost certainly involves a North American or a European working in some tropical part of the world. However, the reality is often very different; as this story shows.
Since 2000, Deva and Sudha Subir have been working to commit the language of the Bhilodi people in Gujarat, a western India state, to written script for the first time and to translate the Bible into their language. In their early 30s with two young children, the Subirs themselves are from Tamilnadu, the region around Madras in south India, though Sudha grew up in Delhi where her parents live and work. I had opportunity to visit with this lovely young couple when another couple from the Tamil service introduced me to them.
The Subirs spent the first five years of their ministry simply living with the Bhilodi, learning the language and exploring how to commit it to writing. Currently they are working on Bible translation and have made substantial progress. Throughout their work they have had technical assistance from Wycliffe Bible Translators, the world’s premier scripture translation agency, founded in the early 20th century by William Cameron Townsend…
The Subirs readily identify themselves as missionaries, quite properly so since they are bearing witness to the gospel in numerous dimensions of difference – linguistic, ethnic, religious, cultural and geographical. India has 16 major languages, many of which are as different from each other as French and Italian are from German or Russian. Christians offering mission across any of these differences, especially between south and north, encounter not only different languages but very different cultural patterns of music, poetry, dance, architecture, caste boundaries and cuisine.