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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bikoluwa (Lubwisi ACTS)

On Saturday, the third published book of the Bible in Lubwisi was presented, celebrated, dedicated and launched. Waller and Mary Tabb, our former team mates who began the Bible translation work many years ago and still facilitate and supervise from afar, came for the weekend, as well as a couple of other SIL (Wycliffe) representatives. Stacks of the bright blue paper back book, 96 pages with simple line drawings and maps, were sold at about 20% of the actual cost of printing.

There are several poignant memories of the day. First, the sense of identity that language brings. Translating the Bible into Lubwisi has intrinsic value because it is the word of God, Truth. But it also has some pretty amazing smaller values, like codifying the language of a few hundred thousand people in agreed-upon letters, giving them group cohesion, significance. With these books the thoughts and words of their hearts take on recognizable form in paper and ink just as the thoughts and words of the dominating powers of the world. There is something very strengthening about that. Second, publishing a book of stories fits well into a culture that loves stories, as Scott pointed out in his speech. He encouraged people to buy the book and read it OUT LOUD, giving testimony about how reading aloud teaches children to WANT to learn to read and write. So this small book of the Bible, as it spreads out in the hands of men (and a few women) who can read, can have a far-reaching impact on children who begin to want to hold a book themselves, to get to the end of the story faster, to read on and on. Third, the guest of honor, a visiting Charismatic Episcopal bishop, reminded us that the book of ACTS tells the story of the ACTS of ordinary men and women, followers of Jesus, working the works of Jesus in the power of Jesus. Like them we can also be part of God’s Kingdom as we live the life that Jesus brings.

The launching party was, no surprise, an all day affair, with speeches, protocol, choirs, a (thankfully) poorly functioning sound system, food, etc. Scott had just repainted the entire community center so the setting was festive too. We enjoyed the day but were tired by 5 as people began to disperse to their homes. Scott made a quick end-of-the-day errand to Nyahuka to buy some crates of cokes for anticipated guests. He walked into a small bar to buy these, where a half dozen men sat sipping their bottles of warm local beer. Not unusual on a Saturday evening. However what was unusual: there was not talk and banter, no music, rather all the drinking patrons were listening to a man reading aloud from the Book of ACTS!!

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