They Were Not Sure God Understood Their Prayers

mother tongue

They Were Not Sure God Understood Their Prayers

“There are approximately 7,100 living languages spoken on earth today. As I write this introduction there are some 1,600+ living languages that still do not have a single verse of the Scriptures translated. These 1,600+ languages need to be translated to reach zero.” David Hamilton, Youth With A Mission.

Up in the mountains, on the outer edge of an Asian country is a small tribe called the Alze*. Leo and Tori* came to this country with a calling to work with a Bibleless, unreached people group. 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.

No Written 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 had 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.

What Could Happen With Translation?

What would happen if their spiritual life embraced the language spoken by their families, friends, and people? Leo and Tori committed themselves to find out. Was it worth the effort to spend so much time learning the language of a small tribal group and then recording these Bible stories?

Let’s see what happened.

The first thing Leo and Tori needed to do was to learn the national language of that country. You need to be able to talk to people in the nation, buy food in the market and live there. It can take at least six months of language training to have enough language to live easily. Of course, this would allow them to speak with the Alze people in a common language so they could begin to work together. Living in the city where many of the Alze people were students, they started to meet some from their focus people group. They looked for Alze young people who had time to help them learn their language. Next, they would need their new friends’ help translating Bible stories into Alze and finally, to record the stories.

Finding Local Help

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.

They looked at the floor in embarrassment.

Couldn’t Pray in Their Own Language

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 learnt 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.

God Does Speak Her Heart Language!

But something happened. The previous week Tori told her that God speaks Alze. 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 is part one, the story will continue. Watch our website and your email for the rest of this story. Meanwhile, there is something you can do to help Bible-less peoples. Over 1,600 languages have no Scriptures. Discover how we can work together to End Bible Poverty Now!

*Name changed

Comments: 12

  1. Such a beautiful encouraging testimony. I am inspired even more to teach and learn about engaging in biblical worship through cultural expressions. I just KNOW God more people will connect with Jesus this way.

    Thank you. I am truly blessed.

  2. The courage was so powerful for us especially for those who aim to win unreached but prayer is for wisdom so that we can be the one who can listen and having understanding,as we grow with the word,we need to know that language are Barrie in our life of salvation but we are praying for God’s knowledge to be on us, and in future we will grow and be obedient of follower of Jesus Christ.

  3. Nkeiruka says:

    Its always beautiful hearing what God is doing through willing vessels who are always ready to obey Him. May God help me to constantly hear His voice so I could obey Him always. Thanks for this inspiring story.

  4. […] we saw in Part 1 of the story, Leo and Tori were working on translating thirty-five Bible stories. The stories […]

  5. […] The strength and power of praying to God in your own language is something that many of us take for granted, but one that many do not know how to do. There are over 1600 languages with no Scripture, and it is very much on God’s heart to see Scripture in every language, and understood by every person. There are many ways that we can work to End Bible Poverty Now. You can read more about this story, and some of the ways that people are working to end Bible poverty over at […]

  6. Samuel says:

    This is such an inspirational story and it really opened me up to the understanding that we as ministers of the gospel especially to the least, last and lost become more effective when we engage with the targets at a cultural level. I mean anyone would be happy to realise that he or she doesnt need to learn English or French or any other language they don’t understand for them to speak with Jesus. It makes sharing the gospel less complicated especially if we can come down to engage with the people in their language (at times)through the means of an interpreter.

  7. […] my own language. Still today, over 1,600 languages do not have a single Bible story translated. In Part 1 and Part 2 of their story, we saw Leo, Tori, and their team working among Bibleless people in Asia. […]

  8. Joseph says:

    There is for sure need to put hard work in translation of scripture in languages that have not got it in their own languages

  9. Israel says:

    Wow… Such a beautiful story. Thank you Jesus

  10. Edith says:

    Thank so much. I have thinking of how to incorporate Ending Bible poverty into DMM approach. Thank God Frontier Mission is now integrating it. I am committed to Loren last project.

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