Have you ever loved someone so much that you hung on every word they said?
Have you known what it feels like to love God that way?
I came across these verses in Jeremiah this week during my personal study time. The notation is my reminder to myself of a previous implication thoses verses had for me and a reminder to continue my commitment that I made nearly six years ago to pray these verses for my children. Each time I see it, I pray again, both for them and for myself, that God's Word will be/remain our joy and our hearts' delight.
As an American, I was blessed to be born into a country where God's Word is easily accessible. It is not only available in English, but in several different reading levels so that even young people can read and understand the Bible. Most people in my home country who want a Bible can either easily find an affordable one or a free one. As a result, I think we sometimes take that for granted and we don't truly have the perspective of the Holy Word of God being our heart's delight. I know I'm guilty.
Not so in other parts of the world. I have a friend who serves with Wycliffe Bible Translators and he has told me that the best estimate on hand is that there are as many as 350 languages spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I asked him how many still have no Bible translation in their mother tongue and he replied "best guesses put the number at 300 yet to be translated." How can God's Word be their joy and their heart's delight if they cannot read it?
Yes, there are scriptures available in French, the official language of DRC, and in Lingala and Swahili, the two most common trade languages, as well as some of the others most commonly spoken. But just for the sake of perspective, my native language is English. I have been taught French and have a French Bible. I actually have two, and one of them is a much simpler version that is supposed to be easier to understand. I am studying Lingala and have a Lingala Bible. I can pick up my French Bible and because I have been taught French, I know how to pronounce the words and even understand most of them. But there are phrases that have nuances unique to native French speakers. There are words I don't know. I miss something in the translation and there is a gap. Even more so when I try to read my Lingala Bible. My tutor spent several minutes yesterday explaining just one verse to me, word by word and phrase by phrase. Even if a Congolese person can somehow afford a Bible, if it is in French or another language other than their mother tongue, there is a gap for them, especially if they have not had an opportunity for good French instruction in their schooling. They cannot fully experience the richness and depth of God's Word. If you had a few years of foreign language courses in school, imagine if the only Bible you could have was in that language and not in your native tongue.
Did you know that public education in the U.S. colonies was begun in the 1640's in order to train children to be able to read the Bible? Please pray for the people of Congo to have Bibles available in their language, and to have better education opportunities so that they can better understand scripture. Pray that God's living, life-changing Word will be their joy and their hearts' delight.