Photo by Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash.

As part of the Pentecost Give a Verse Initiative, believers are encouraged to gift all 7,957 verses of the New Testament to a group without Scripture at SGD$50 per verse. Photo by Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash.

“When we share the Gospel, people say Jesus is not our God. They say He is the God and religion of foreigners.”

This is why Sherry*, a believer from the Lilac* people group in South Asia, believes it is crucial for her community to have the Bible in their heart language if they are to be won over for Christ. 

“This Bible that is being prepared can have a profound effect on our future generations.”

Only 1% to 2% of the 8,000-strong population, which comprises mostly subsistence and agricultural farmers, are Christians.

True enough, after just portions of the New Testament were translated into their language, at least three villagers gave their lives to Jesus, according to a report by field workers.

“Most of our people only understand the Lilac language very well,” said Sherry. “If there are films about Jesus and the Bible in the Lilac language, people would be surprised. And it makes it easier for us to spread the Gospel among them.”

Added Eva*, a pastor: “This Bible that is being prepared can have a profound effect on our future generations.”

Bearing fruit

Efforts to translate the New Testament into the Lilac language have made significant headway, partly thanks to the more than $40,000 that was raised by the body of Christ in Asia last Pentecost.

As part of the Pentecost Give a Verse Initiative, believers were encouraged to gift all 7,957 verses of the New Testament to a group without Scripture at SGD$50 per verse.

Some villagers have turned to Christ, while others have expressed interest in a God they never knew until now.

The initiative was run by illumiNations Asia, a coalition of 10 Bible translation partners who are working to have Scripture in all languages by 2033.

Apart from the translation work into the Lilac language, the funds were also channelled into the ongoing Bible translation work and literacy classes for five other indigenous people groups in a country in South Asia.

Despite increasingly anti-Christian sentiment in the region that has forced the translation teams to work separately, the work has continued to progress and bear fruit.

In a recent update in March 2021, field workers shared that some villagers have turned to Christ, while others have expressed interest in a God they never knew until now.

Will you play a part to put a Bible in someone’s hand?

This Pentecost (May 23), the Give a Verse Initiative will be having its second run to involve the body of Christ in bringing God’s Word to those who do not have it. 

At SGD$50, believers can gift one verse to those who do not have the Bible in their language. This year, an anonymous donor will be matching a dollar for every dollar donated. (See sidebar below on how to give.)

”We have the privilege of sharing the Spirit and the life-giving Word to those who do not have it.”

Andrew Tay, who leads illumiNations Asia, told Salt&Light that the goal of the initiative is to bring the mission of translating God’s Word to every follower of Christ.

Sharing that more than 800 language groups in Asia do not have a single verse of Scripture, he added: “The call is for the Body of Christ in Asia to step up to eradicate Bible poverty as God has blessed us with more than enough resources to accomplish His mission.

“We have received the Spirit and Life through the Word (John 6:63), and we have the privilege of sharing the Spirit and the life-giving Word to those who do not have it.”

Pentecost is significant to the Bible translation movement for two reasons, he shared with Salt&Light last year.

Firstly, it marks the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ disciples – 50 days from Easter – and enabled them to share the Gospel in different languages, leading to the salvation of 3,000 that day.

Additionally, in the Old Testament, Pentecost was celebrated as the beginning of the wheat harvest – 50 days after the start of the barley harvest – where people offered their firstfruits to God. (“Pente” means five in Greek.)

Both meanings of Pentecost come together in this initiative, said Tay. “As a body of Christ in Asia, let us celebrate this Pentecost by offering our first fruits to God, which will go into giving His living Word to a group that doesn’t have Scripture.”


* The names of the people group and its members have been changed for their protection.

Will you help to share the Good News?

Here are three ways you can partner God and His people this Pentecost to bring God’s Word to those without Scripture:

  • Give one or more verses to a language group without Scripture here. The initiative runs from May 23 to July 12. The language group will be chosen after the initiative ends.
  • Share this initiative with your church, friends and family.
  • Pray for the Bible translation work that is being done, and the work that is to be done here.

MORE STORIES ON BIBLE TRANSLATION:

“God wants to speak in their heart language”: A Bible translator describes the joy of sharing Scripture in native tongue

From Oxford and Cambridge to 17 years in missions

About the author

Gracia Lee

Gracia is a journalism graduate who thoroughly enjoys people and words. Thankfully, she gets a satisfying dose of both as a writer at Salt&Light. When she's not working, you will probably find her admiring nature or playing Monopoly Deal with her little brother.

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