God’s Pure Pilgrims

By Rachel Greco

These pilgrims came from Plymouth, Michigan, not Plymouth, Massachusetts. Their destination was JAARS, not the New World. Members of Trinity Evangelical Presbyterian Church drove down for a week to serve Bible translation by cleaning, making crafts for JAARS Day and Passport to Christmas, and other similar projects.

The Trinity Evangelical Presbyterian mission team

While here, the team had the opportunity to hear from some of the true pilgrims of Bible translation. Two women shared about their experiences as translators in other countries. The forty years these ladies gave to the Lord awed Albert, who was volunteering at JAARS for the first time. Both of these women lived in places where the people relied on oral communication, so they had no alphabet. One of them only saw the fruition of her labor of love at the end of the forty years when the New Testament was finally completely translated into the language of the people she served.

Albert learned that one of the reasons translation can take so long is due to all the nuances of meanings attached to words. One of these translators described how she had used a particular word incorrectly for twenty-five years. After many years someone finally informed her the word she had been using to indicate carry actually meant haul.

Bev Dawson sharing about her experiences in Guyana

Hearing these women speak, Albert, who’s originally from the Philippines, said, “I was so amazed that we [his fellow Filipinos] have a translation already. You just take it for granted that you’re reading [the Scripture in your language]. These are such deep words. I wouldn’t use them in my normal language, but I understand them completely.”

This caused him to wonder how his Filipino translation came about. Who were the first Bible translation pilgrims in his country? “I’m 65 years old, so when I was an infant, there was probably already a translation. How far beyond that did it ever get translated?”

This was Albert’s first in-depth look at what JAARS does, and he enjoyed discovering what the organization is all about. “I have learned quite a bit and been inspired by everyone who has been out in the field.”

There are new translations in the dialects of Albert’s country so that younger generations, who are not familiar with the old wordings, can understand the Scripture better. He now appreciates this process and values Bible translation more than he did previously.

“With Bible translation as the ultimate goal, and as an engineer, I can relate to the tangible process that JAARS implements to gets us there,” he remarked.

Like the two translators who sacrificed their comforts by moving to a foreign land, Albert and his wife are now open to whatever and wherever God leads them.