Jesus Went to Jerusalem

By Rachel Greco

Only God can reach down into the dark places of the soul and remake passionate people for himself.

Carl and Carole Harrison served as Bible translators for 43 years, depending on JAARS-trained pilots for transport to their village.

Carole and her kids

When they first arrived in the village where they served, the people told them, “We’ve been waiting for you. We’ve heard about these people working on other languages in other areas, and we’ve been waiting for you to bring God’s paper to us.”

The village men informed Carl that Floriano was the only person who could work with him on the translation, but cautioned, “He just hangs in his hammock smoking all day long.” This man, who was the village bum, also stuttered.

Carl had doubts about Floriano. But it turned out that he was waiting to hear God’s word. “God moved in his heart,” Carl relates. “He also lost his stutter.”

Floriano became one of the major translation checkers for the New Testament. He corrected Carl when he said things the wrong way.

Carl working on his typewriter with Floriano
Floriano marking corrections on a manuscript of one of the New Testament books

“He turned out to be such a gifted man, especially in the area of music,” Carole reminisces. Floriano was a prolific hymn writer, who also sang and possessed a passion to transmit the message of Scripture. As new Scripture was translated, he set it to music.

The people with their entire translated Bibles

Floriano and individuals from other villages wrote songs in their Guajajara language. When they had composed and amassed almost 300 hymns, a group of believers gathered with Floriano and Carole to organize the best songs in the hymnbook.  

Floriano leading the people in song at the New Testament dedication in 1985

The group had a wonderful time together. They’d look at a hymn and say, “Oh, I love this one!” Then they’d sing it together, which meant it took forever to go through the songs. But they were in complete agreement about which songs should remain in the hymnbook.  

One song particularly bothered Carole because it didn’t seem to mean anything. It contained only one verse: “And Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem.” So she took a chance and suggested, “Let’s delete this one song.”

Every drop of sweet bliss in the atmosphere evaporated. Everyone was quiet; nobody wanted to disagree with Carole. So Floriano, as pastor of the growing church and now one of the leaders in the community, said, “I don’t know, Dona Carla. That’s our favorite song.” The believers would sing, “And Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem” over and over while clapping or raising their hands—filled with joy.

Disappointment surged through Carole. She believed that the people were just enjoying the singing and exuberance, that the words didn’t mean anything to them. “I was pretty downhearted about it.”

Again, she told the believers, “But [the song] doesn’t say anything.”

Like a burst of thunder, everyone spoke at the same time, “Carole, Jesus went to Jerusalem. He knew what they were going to do to him in Jerusalem. He knew they were going to spit on him and beat him and whip him and nail him to a cross and put him in a tomb. But he also knew he would rise again.”

These believers were so impressed that Jesus went on purpose to that place of agony and sacrifice. None of their culture heroes would do anything like that; they were selfish people, more to be feared than to be admired.

And so the villagers sang this song over and over—six, eight, ten times, joy flooding their voices and souls. When they sang, “And Jesus went to Jerusalem,” they were also saying, “He did it on purpose, he went for us, and he paid the price so he could save us.”

Join us in praising God this Easter for going to Jerusalem and saving us from those dark places we all once lived in—and making us new!