Bible translator Lee Bramlett was confident that God had left His mark on the Hdi culture somewhere. He believed that God must have provided some key for the people to find Him, but though he searched, he could not find it. Where was the footprint of God in the history or daily life of these Cameroonian people?
What clue had He planted to let the Hdi know Who He was and how He wanted to relate to them?
One night, God prompted Lee to look at the Hdi word for love. Lee had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels – i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?
Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, the most influential leaders in the community, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. That would mean that our wife had been loved but the love was gone.
“Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. That kind of love depended on my wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.
“Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” Everyone laughed. “Of course not! If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.”
Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”
There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men.
Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean?
“This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”
One simple vowel and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on Who I am. I love you because of Me and NOT because of you.”
The New Testament in Hdi is ready to be published, and 29,000 Hdi speakers will soon feel the impact of verses like Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, ‘dvu’ your wives, just as Christ ‘dvu’-d the church…” This amazing, and until now unknown unconditional love will be theirs. (by Bob Creson)
I’m attempting to discover how to urge leaders to be ‘movers and shakers’. I’m learning that daily living takes up so much of peoples time, that many default into a rote kind of lifestyle. Rather than initiate things, or look for creative solutions, it is much easier to stick with the norm. I like Watchman Nee’s book entitled: “The Normal Christian Life” where he entices people to move from the average to what should be normal.
Keep looking down from your Position in Christ Jesus! … john
(original e-newsletter post – September 7, 2012)