In the Face of Setbacks and Opposition, Bible Translation Pushes Forward
In Part 1 of their story, Leo and Tori were working on translating thirty-five Bible stories. The stories spanned from Creation to Christ, in the language of the Alze people. The Alzes are an ethnic minority of several thousand people. They live in a mountainous area of a much bigger country. Most of them can speak the main national language of their country. As we saw in the first story, it’s important that people can have God’s Word in their own heart language. It’s a big deal for people who have no written language, to know that God can speak their language too!
Translating Bible stories into a new language is challenging work. But there are other, sometimes unexpected challenges too. When we bring the Gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus before, we should expect setbacks. We should also prepare for spiritual opposition from the evil one. But God is on our side. Let’s see what happened.
Working in a Team
When Leo and Tori first went to work with the Alze people they had a team of five people. It’s always better to work in teams. Functioning in teams is one of YWAM’s Foundational Values. We share the work as well as pray, worship, and encourage each other. Their team members were a young married couple and a single man. The single man had to return to the U.S. because he needed to work on some personal issues. So now there were four. The young couple was expecting a baby. They went home to the U.S. for six months for the birth and then returned. After several more months, they got pregnant again. This time they decided to return to the United States permanently.
Who Is Our Team? What’s Happening to Us?
Now Leo and Tori were on their own. There were other foreigners in the city, and there was no one who could help them with their work. On top of this setback, Tori fell into a deep depression. She was still busy helping other foreigners in the city, but she could barely do anything else. Leo and Tori prayed.
This was very unusual for Tori and they didn’t know why it was happening. Leo worked on the project – on his own. After about two months he found himself complaining to God, “Have I got to finish this project on my own?” The single guy left. The married couple left. Now even his own wife was unable to help. There was such heaviness and discouragement. Then God spoke to Leo, “Look around you. Tell Me, how many Alze people are helping you with this project?” Leo began to think of how many people from Alze villages were helping. He counted, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. There were six people from the villages!” God reminded him that he also had five more locals helping from the majority ethnic group in the city.
The Lord said, “Don’t you see? You haven’t lost your team. You’ve got a different team now. In fact, you once had five on your team when you came. Now you have eleven. You don’t need to worry.” God continued, “I’ve made sure that you’re not alone on this.”
After three months of Tori being depressed, they were both getting discouraged. They made an appointment with an American psychologist in the city. Maybe Tori needed professional help and medication. On the day before the appointment, they got all their friends around the world to pray.
All their local friends came to their home too. They prayed through every room. Every door was anointed with oil. The prayer was that God would fill everywhere with Himself. At first, they couldn’t tell if anything had happened. But the next day when Tori woke up it was like a light had turned on in her heart and mind. No depression! It had gone and has never returned.
Jesus Is The Victor
What is there to learn here for us all? When you are bringing God’s Word to a people who don’t yet have His Word, you face a battle with God’s enemy. The enemy knows that without God’s Word, he has ongoing, oppressive power. But when the people receive God’s Word, Satan will lose power. The devil does not give up power willingly! Spiritual warfare is real. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things so you can have peace. In this world, you will have troubles, but be brave, I have defeated the world.”
Leo and Tori looked back at the four months of Tori’s depression. They realized they had successfully completed 28 of the 35 Bible narratives. There were setbacks. There was spiritual opposition. The devil hadn’t stopped them! They would continue on toward their dream.
When the couple started their work with the Alze people in 2016, they had a dream which was in two parts.
First, their dream was to give the Alze people the Word of God in their own language. It would be in the form of Bible narratives, easily shared.
Second, their dream was to see a locally-led, self-reproducing Alze church planted. They dreamed of simple churches that would easily multiply. It would become a movement of new disciples and new churches.
We Need to Obey God
They prayed for their dream to become reality. One morning Tori came and told Leo what God had spoken to her in her morning devotions. God said that if they want to see Him move in every Alze village, they need to go into every Alze village. In each village, they were to proclaim His Word.
At this stage, Leo didn’t even know how many Alze villages there were. He managed to get a detailed map of the region. He traveled to all the villages on the edge of the Alze region. This way he could see where Alze villages ended and other minority ethnic communities started. He also spoke to many of the older Alze men to find out how many villages there were in total. From his research, he learned there were 108 Alze villages. They flowed out to five large mountain valleys.
Since Leo and Tori were not allowed as foreigners to live in rural areas, their home was in the nearest big city. The extra distance added to the travel challenge. Their habit was to visit some villages two or three times a month for four or five days at a time. Their plan for the first trip to the villages would be to do intercessory prayer.
Proclaiming God’s Word
Leo would target nine or ten villages and go to each. In every village he would declare God’s Word over the villages. He proclaimed the whole of the Alze Biblical narratives out loud! As he couldn’t yet speak Alze language, he spoke the narratives in English. His purpose was not yet evangelism. His purpose was to obey God’s command and to proclaim God’s truth as a form of spiritual warfare.
He looks back on his actions today. Leo is convinced that the fruit that followed is the result of their simple obedience to God. In faith, they obeyed and proclaimed His Word in every Alze village. In the third, and final part of their story, we will see how God honored their faithful obedience.
How much value do you place on prayer? Do you see it as ministry? Laying a foundation of ongoing prayer is critical to an unreached people group being transformed and a movement launched.
Are you facing spiritual warfare in your efforts to reach the lost? Reach out to friends and others who can stand with you in intercession as Leo and Tori did.
*Names of people and places have been changed.