The Bible and Disciple Making

Tchfsh Here's the first part of Eddie Arthur's series on why we should give the Bible when people are in need.  Great stuff.

This is the first part of my answer to the question of why we should bother translating the Bible people when there are many more, apparently more urgent, problems in the world.

In a sense, this answer is the most straight forward, but perhaps it is also the most contentious. To put it simply, I believe that we should make the Bible available to people, whoever and wherever they are, because it provides the answers to life’s most important questions.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I believe strongly in holistic mission. Proclamation of the Gospel and loving service go hand in hand and must never be separated. We must show compassion for the poor and needy, we must work for justice and peace and we must proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation through the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) goes hand in hand with the ‘Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

There was a time when Evangelical Christians would discount the value serving people’s needs; condemning it as ‘the social Gospel’. However, over the past few decades, compassionate service has regained its rightful place. The problem seems to me, that in the process we have lost a focus on the need to proclaim the Gospel.

To some extent, this is understandable. Day after day, our media show us dreadful images of people who are suffering from starvation, flooding, warefare and so the list goes on. Our hearts go out to our fellow human beings who face such unimaginable hardships, and we quite rightly want to do something about it. Different agencies, Christian and secular, use these images to encourage us to support their work and to make a contribution to alleviating human suffering.

But what we can never see on our televisions or in the media is the dreadful state of a human being who is not reconciled to God. Though we might believe in the need for people to come to faith in Christ and to grow as disciples, the urgency of that need has been lost somewhere along the way.

I believe that this is reflected in some research that was carried out for a number of Christian organisations recently. Focus groups of Evangelical Christians were asked to name some Christian charities. The answers were very revealing, people named a number of relief and development agencies, most of whom did not have a Christian basis, but they hardly mentioned any evangelisitic or discipleship ministries.

When people are suffering we must be concerned about meeting their needs and improving their living conditions – that is not negotiable. But we must also do our utmost to bring them to saving faith in Christ. After all, what good does it do if someone gains the whole world but loses their soul? (Mark 8:36).

I believe that Bible translation is absolutely essential for evangelism and disciple making. Because of this, I believe that the Church is obligated to translate the Scriptures in all situations. We must not and cannot ignore people’s spiritual needs just because they have physical needs, too. That being said, we must not ignore their physical needs either.

That being said, and somewhat counter-intuitively, I do believe that a Bible translation project can also make a significant contribution to dealing with people’s physical needs in the long term – but that is another post.

Why Give the Bible? Part one of Eddie Arthur’s answer

Why bt Eddie Arthur is a great guy, and the director of Wycliffe UK.  He doesn't remember, but we ate pizza together at Greenfields in West Africa several years ago.  To be fair, there were about 20 of us sitting at one long table and I was at the other end.

Anyway, his blog is great, this post is great, and the series is going to be great.

The links at the end of his post are also great.  My personal favorite is the one where he answers the very good question "Why not just teach everyone English?"  You even get to hear him talk.  Which is great, because he's British and has a great accent.

Why Give the Bible? by Eddie Arthur (who is just great)

This is going to be a little mini-series on why we translate the Bible for minority peoples around the world. I have already written about this subject more than once and I will put a link to some of the earlier posts at the foot of this one. However, in this series I want to answer a specific objection that is often raised when we talk to people about Wycliffe’s work. When we ask people to make some sort of contribution to Bible translation work to receive a reply something along these lines:

What’s the point of giving the Bible? Why not give water or food? Anyway, I don’t want to be involved in something that can take years to see a result, I would rather give my money where I can see an immediate impact.

Perhaps you have had similar thoughts, yourself. Over the next few days, I’d like to respond to this challenge under three headings:

  • Making Disciples
  • Long term change
  • Quicker doesn’t mean better

In the meantime, here are some of my earlier posts on the subject of why we translate the Bible. These are arranged roughly in chronological order – the first one going back to 2005.

Dear Isaac

Isc Hi Isaac!  Thanks for your letter.  It was so long ago that you wrote it, I'll bet you forgot all about
it!  I suspect other people might wonder
about the same things, so I'm going to answer even though it's late, ok?

I already talked about snow in mmmBELLYmay land here, do you think we'll get any before Christmas here in Illinois?

I get my food in a few different places.  Some of it I grow myself.  Actually, it was just an accident that a tomato plant grew out of my compost pile, but the tomatoes were so good, I'm going to plant all sorts of seeds in January.  I also have some fruit trees.  This is the first papaya that I picked!

Ppya I also buy veggies, eggs and other food from the open air market in the village where I live.  Mktng I get rice, flour, canned green beans, tuna fish, Nutella and Laughing Cow cheese from a little shop in a town about an hour away from where I live.  It's kind of like Olson's General Store in Little House on the Prairie.  Have you ever watched that show?  There's a store that has all sorts of useful things and food, all behind a counter.  I wait my turn, and then tell the man working there what I need, and he gets it down for me.

For lunch every day I get my goat and corn meal mush from a little restaurant right near my house.  This isn't the one, but it looks a lot like it.  I like my lunch!  There are days where I'd rather a Big Mac, but goat is good eating!  And, my usual lunch costs me about 75 cents.

Does that answer your food question, Isaac?  Next post I'll talk about how muddy the roads get when it rains!

Thanks for writing, and thanks even more for praying for the Bible translation into mmmBELLYmay!


Miss Nora

Of snow and snakes


Dear Abe, Isaac, Lexi, Jake, Lauren, Olivia, and Zach,

Thanks for your good questions about snow and snakes!  I'll answer your other questions too, in other blog posts.

Even though this looks like snow, it's actually cotton that's been harvested and piled up, waiting to be weighed.  It rarely gets below 60 degrees farenheit here, and in the hot season, which is coming up in March and April, it gets up to 120 degrees.  Our mountains aren't high enough to get snow, too bad, huh?  It would be nice to be able to go up into the mountains and cool off by going sledding when it gets hot!

Even though this snake came to visit my yard, I haven't ever been bitten by a snake, and I'm really glad!  I don't have anything about snakes in general, but there are some pretty poisonous ones that live here. One of the reasons I don't have any grass in my yard is so that snakes don't have anywhere to hide.  The other reason is that water is pretty scarce here, and there just isn't enough to use for watering grass.

Thanks for all of your letters!  Ryan, Courtney, Madison, Nicole, Taylor, Jared, Eean, Brock, Caleb, and Andrew, I'll be answering yours soon!

Miss Nora

Dear Abe


Hi Abe!  (Your name isn't really Abe, I'm giving you a pseudonym.  Ask Mrs. D what a pseudonym is!)

Thanks for your letter with all the nice compliments and good questions!

When I need to have clothes made, I go to a seamstress and I show her a picture of what I want my dress to look like.  She measures me, and then she makes it for me.  It's really nice to have clothes that fit perfectly!  Here's a picture of me at the seamstress' shop:


I don't know if it has a name, but one song that they sing here is a lullaby I call Yoo Yoo Yoo.  Click here
to see a video of a woman singing it.  I like to sing it to crying
babies because the babies stop crying and all the adults around start
laughing because it's funny to hear me sing it.  And, when I forget the
words, I can just sing yoo yoo over and over again until someone jumps
in and helps me remember them!

Thanks for praying and for writing!

Miss Nora