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Feb 26, 2017

Hi, Everyone!

Thanks for any of you who have prayed for me— in Indonesia, and for Gale who is at home in Arkansas.

Someone just asked me at church, “So how’s it going with that, uh, ya know— project you are doing?” I know by now that I have 2 minutes or less to answer such questions. And I’m sure that I do the same thing to others. I want to be friendly, so I ask How it’s going. But I don’t really have the time for a long answer. Although, I try very hard to not let my eyes glaze over when people answer my questions. The main thing I want people to know is that I am their brother and interested… well, at least in a limited way! For two minutes at least.

I am now 17 days into my trip here. We have just a little mopping up before declaring that our Edition 2.2 of the Plain Indonesian New Testament is ready to print. The printing should start on schedule in March.

One of the first things that I did when I arrived here was to go to meet with our translation coordinator— Balazi, in West Kalimantan. We had four intense days together, and almost got done with all our files of suggested revisions to the New Testament. We finished the last part by e-mail. There are times when a Bible translator knows that Someone is watching and helping with the work. I would never claim that we get everything perfect. But there are times when one knows for sure that the Lord wants a change to be made. One of those happened as we processed a suggestion to one of about 20-some verses where Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Since the verse happens so many times, I thought that our first edition text had to be OK. I had just said to Balazi, “Let’s move on. If we change this verse, I will have to change all the others.” I was already scanning the next verse when Balazi said, “Hold on! Was Jesus saying to listen to what he was about to say, or what he just said?” I answered, “To what he just said. This always comes at the end of something important.” By now you’ve guessed it. We had it wrong, so that it sounded like one should listen to the next thing Jesus was going to say. So now in the second edition Jesus gives a strong warning, “What are those ears of yours for?! Listen to that!” In Indonesian, if Jesus just says “Listen,” it points to something coming next. If he says, “Listen to that” it points back to what he just said. So in the end I was very happy to find all of the 20-some times Jesus said this and change them all!

If you scroll way down at our Digging Deeper Facebook group page, you’ll find all the pictures I have shared from this trip. They include pictures of Balazi and his new bride Tika, and pictures that deal with the other people I will share about here. Tika is just two months pregnant and is having very bad morning sickness. It’s not just in the morning. She is struggling daily against throwing up and finding it difficult to eat. Please pray for her.

The manager and prayer coordinator for our in-country non-profit organization is Daniel. We need to stop giving away expensive New Testaments each time he does a presentation. So I asked him to see what he could talk about if we gave people only a booklet containing Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. He came to me just bubbling over about a page of verses he had collected. “Look how clear this is!” “Look how meaningful this is!” “Here’s something Indonesian believers don’t understand!” As he spoke, I could see that Daniel was not just going to be presenting about our New Testament translation, but about the way we can grow in the Lord. And he is passionate about the topic.

This is when I think: This is God’s Word, and I get to translate it!

Last week I travelled to Medan to see two people. One is Yuni, and let’s use the name Teddy for the man I met, due to the nature of the project we are embarking on together. Yuni is a Christian radio station DJ and talk show host whom I met on my last trip to Indonesia. I had the opportunity to be on one of her talk shows back then, one geared for youth. I won’t talk about that now, but that’s how we met. She accepted the challenge back then to become a friend of our Bible translation team— volunteering time to help in translating the Old Testament. So starting in November, Yuni worked hard to finish our online translation course. She has drafted about 30 chapters of Old Testament history books since starting in January. In our one day meeting, we covered a lot of ground, including a couple of hours talking about translating OT poetry. Daniel asked me by e-mail some time back, “Hey, don’t you think that we should pay Yuni something?” So I asked her by e-mail at that time, and again in person last week, “Hey, should we be paying you for all this?” “Oh no. This is for the Lord!” How often does this happen? This is priceless. I’ll travel anytime to meet with someone like that. Yuni’s job doesn’t pay much, and she is not rich. But she has something one cannot buy. It is called Joy.

Teddy is someone I “just happened” to meet in 2015 when giving a presentation in one of the seminaries in Medan. Actually, I have learned that such things don’t “just happen.” Teddy is a former seminary professor, and one of the subjects he used to teach is Greek. For about 20 years now, Teddy has devoted himself to reaching a very large distinct population in this country with the Gospel. Back in 2015, when listening to my presentation, he realized that our Plain Indonesian New Testament would be perfect for the population he and his teammates are reaching— if it could be adapted for them. Teddy is making great progress in our Bible translation course. In about 3 weeks to a month, he should be able to start adapting the Bible stories his organization most frequently use to share the Gospel. After that, he will work on the Gospel of Mark. I was moved when he opened his well-used copy of our New Testament as he was telling me how meaningful it is to him. So many pages had yellow highlights! Later, as he was taking me to catch the train that would take me to the airport, I said, “It wasn’t just by chance that we met a couple of years ago.” And he proceeded to tell me how his call to provide a Bible for that target population group was actually given to him ten years ago.

There are some things that God wants done before Jesus returns. He desires to work with us in those things. Just this morning I read wonderful promises in Luke 11:

“So I say to you, keep asking,    and it will be given to you. Keep searching,    and you will find. Keep knocking,    and the door will be opened to you.
Luke 11:9 HCSB

Our Father delights in giving things to us when we ask for things that glorify Christ. This is the true meaning of praying in Jesus’ name. It is not just tagging on “in Jesus name” at the end of our prayers. It is praying unselfishly and according to God’s will, and for things that will glorify Jesus. If we are uplifting the cause of Christ, we are praying in Jesus’ name— whether or not we say those words at the end of our prayer.

After asking, searching, and knocking, when God opens those doors, one thing we find is Joy.