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The Word Comes with Power (and batteries) September 18, 2017

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
still a best seller in Wycliffe USA’s online store or search on Amazon

When I joined Wycliffe at the end of the 1990’s I read a story that has stayed with me – about a community’s first real contact with Americans and more significant than that their first real contact with Jesus.

Some of the people had met foreigners before but no-one had come and lived with them. Jesus was just as foreign and distant to them.

It’s 25 years since “The Word Came with Power” was first published but you can still read the book about how the Balangao’s got the book, including how they first really learnt to pray, after their American (Joanne Shetler) was in a helicopter crash, and some cried out, “don’t let her die, the books not finished yet!”

The book (the New Testament) was finished, and in the process many of the people came to know God.

Times have changed.

A few years ago I reflected on the fact that along with little access to the gospel, the people Joanne went to live with in the 1970’s had little access to healthcare, education, and news of the world outside. Doming, the son of the village elder who ‘adopted’ Joanne as his daughter, also survived the helicopter crash that almost killed Joanne. He went on to become a Bible translator himself. Several years ago I spotted that Doming’s children were on facebook.

I marvelled at the speed of change and the advance of technology, and then remembered that my own father was 14 before they got electricity on his farm, and that for some of my early childhood in the UK we didn’t have a TV, record player or telephone.

balangaoNTappThe Balangao New Testament is now available on a phone app, and I’d guess that most of the Balangaos carry Android phones that could run it as long as they are kept charged. I don’t know how good the wifi is in some of the villages but this version can be easily (and legally) copied phone to phone.

Technology allows for many new things but it also means it could be easy for people to forget the past.

Three short radio interviews I linked to from this blog a mere 9 years ago are no longer online thanks to an update of a website in 2012, but I trust they may still be in an archive somewhere.

In this world of electronic media there is no guarantee that stories will not be lost or buried.

Tell the stories

I hope the stories about the changes throughout the 70’s and 80’s, and about what God was doing in that time, are still told and treasured by the people so that third and fourth generations of Christians can understand the impact of the gospel on their parents and grandparent when they first heard it.

I hope that it still has the same power in the lives of people today and that stories are told of what Jesus did 2000 years ago, 20, 30 and 40 years ago, and what he is doing today.



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