By Melissa Paredes
Perry really wanted to be able to read the Bible, preferably in his own language. But there was a problem. He didn’t know how.
He’d been a believer for many years and had attended a Lutheran church, but no one there had been able to teach him how to read God’s Word. And he’d just gone to a Bible course where pastors and evangelists from all over Central Australia came together. He’d learned a lot, but it still wasn’t like being able to study the Bible for himself.
With tears in his eyes, Perry headed home, his heart heavy.
Desperate to find someone who could help him learn how to read, Perry went to Pastor Jimmy, a man who had worked for many years on Bible translation. Pastor Jimmy connected him with David Strickland, a translator working with AuSIL*. He and David had been working on translation together for many years. In fact, it was Pastor Jimmy who had helped teach David the Anmatyerr language so he could begin working on a translation in that language.
It just so happened that Anmatyerr was his father’s language! Perry had learned it as a child, but had largely forgotten it. If he could relearn it and learn how to read it, he would be able to read God’s Word for himself, in his own language.
David agreed to help teach Perry how to read, and they began with the Gospel of John.
It was a painstakingly slow progress, but Perry gradually learned more and more words. After about two weeks of lessons, he was able to read the first page of the Gospel of John. To help him continue learning, David gave Perry a memory stick with a recording of passages from John. That way he could listen and follow along in the text, continuing to practice the words he’d learned and picking up new ones along the way.
Excited by his progress, Perry often told David, “See, you are teaching me!”
As the weeks went by, David introduced new material for Perry to read, especially narrative passages. Perry has since mastered the story of the widow’s offering, and even reads it aloud to others! He recently began practicing the Gospel of Mark at home using a memory stick. Now, he’s even able to work on reading passages without the help of the audio recordings.
Perry and many others like him around the world are proof that you’re never too old to learn new skills and follow new dreams in service to the Lord. It’s been a long journey, but Perry is continuing to practice and make progress in reading the Bible in his own language. It is his desire to return to his home in Mount Allan and help restart the Lutheran church he used to attend—the former pastor is now too aged to travel to the church from his own community—and serve as an evangelist to his people.
*Australian Society for Indigenous Languages
Read Full Post »