I’ve posted before on the uncomfortable privilege we English-speaking Bible readers have: numerous versions of the Bible for meditating, studying, reading out loud, and so on. And yet there are around 340 million people who don’t even have a word of the Bible in their heart language.
Bible-availability-wise, we in the English-speaking West are living in corpulent luxury while our brothers and sisters in many parts of the global church have nothing; not a single scrap of the Word of God in their own language. How is this anything other than a scandal?
My three-year-old daughter has more of the Bible written in her ‘language’ than what I can only assume must be at least hundreds of thousands of pastors, if not millions!
Ralph Winter (quoted by John Piper) provides a neat metaphor that might apply in this context. He describes the vessel, The Queen May and how it was used in peace time and war time. In doing so he illustrates what can be done with resources when pushed. I’m not always comfortable with the way the warfare language is used in mission contexts but we might want to consider how his description challenges us in the West in relation to our Bible-wealth: what luxuries would we be willing to do without in order to make sure the rest of the global church has what it so desperately needs?
The Queen Mary, lying in repose in the harbor at Long Beach, California, is a fascinating museum of the past. Used both as a luxury liner in peacetime and a troop transport during the Second World War, its present status as a museum the length of three football fields affords a stunning contrast between the lifestyles appropriate in peace and war. On one side of a partition you see the dining room reconstructed to depict the peacetime table setting that was appropriate to the wealthy patrons of high culture for whom a dazzling array of knives and forks and spoons held no mysteries. On the other side of the partition the evidences of wartime austerities are in sharp contrast. One metal tray with indentations replaces fifteen plates and saucers. Bunks, not just double but eight tiers high, explain why the peace-time complement of 3000 gave way to 15,000 people on board in wartime. How repugnant to the peacetime masters this transformation must have been! To do it took a national emergency, of course. The survival of a nation depended on it. The essence of the Great Commission today is that the survival of many millions of people depends on its fulfillment. (quoted in Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life)