Kelly Chesnut is director of Wycliffe Women of the Word, an initiative striving to bring hope and wholeness to women and children around the world.
Driving through the winding dirt roads of the northern Philippines, my family and I were part of a caravan headed to Barlig, a small village in the mountains of Luzon. The Finallig Scripture celebration had been in the planning stages for a year and all the surrounding villages were buzzing with excitement. Taking our children to their first New Testament dedication, we didn’t know what to expect. Our experience was beyond imagination.
School was cancelled and businesses closed down so everyone could participate in the day-long celebration. Early the next morning, we made our way to the top of the hill where a festive parade was beginning the day’s activities. Men, women and children wore their traditional attire and waved to the crowds as they made their way to the celebration site. The elderly sat on the tiered cement seating of the outdoor amphitheater. Bands played, children danced and people cheered as the boxes of newly printed Scriptures were carried to the stage.
The next several hours were filled with testimonies, stories, dancing and feasting — all in celebration of God’s Word available in the language of the Finallig people. Most of the celebration was in the mother tongue; we were just sideline participants. And although we couldn’t understand their language, we didn’t need someone to translate what they were feeling — sheer joy radiated from every villager’s face.
Tears blurred my vision as I watched the people open their New Testaments and eagerly read the Word of God, understanding anew the depth of God’s love, grace and mercy toward them and the utter joy in knowing him. Not just knowing about God, but knowing God through the truth of his Word in the language that spoke clearly to their hearts.
I was especially excited for Carmen, our Finallig host. I knew that the translated Scripture would transform her heart and mind. It would provide her with wisdom and peace for her everyday life. It would strengthen her and give her the courage to live out her faith. It would shape her perspective and guide her choices. And through reading the Finallig New Testament, Carmen would ultimately come to a deeper understanding of God’s love for her and the Finallig people.
She was a name and a face that made this dedication so much more personal for me, because I knew the impact that God’s Word in her heart language would have on her life. But she wasn’t the only one who would feel it. All the Finallig people were about to experience what I’ve known my whole life — that God’s Word is living and active, transforming hearts and minds and bringing hope and peace. It is the story of God’s redeeming love through Jesus Christ, the hope of all nations.
This is the heart of Wycliffe — that men, women and children, young and old alike, would come to know and believe God. We long for people to experience lives filled with hope and joy because they trust Christ.
No matter where you go in this world, there are people longing for hope and peace. Wycliffe Women of the Word invites you to be a part of bringing hope and wholeness to those who have none. For more information, go to wycliffe.org/women.