第十八天 上帝的話語臨到瓦亞納人──Day 18 The Word of God comes to the Wayana
For English version, please refer to the latter part of this page
Day 18 The Word of God comes to the Wayana
Nuwahe was a young leader among the Wayana people of Suriname in the early 1960s when he first met Ivan Schoen and his family. The Schoens began their language study and ministry in the village where Nuwahe lived, said their youngest child, Tom Schoen.
Nuwahe helped Ivan learn the Wayana language, and the two developed a strong relationship, Tom said. Nuwahe became Ivan’s partner in translating portions of the Bible into Wayana. The Wayana had no written language, but the Schoens gradually transcribed their spoken words into a printed language, and the tribe rapidly embraced literacy.
Nuwahe, who became chief of the entire tribe, felt he had been called by God for his role. The root word for his name means “tongue.” The two men would translate one book of the Bible at a time. Ivan would give his wife, Doris, the handwritten transcription. She would type it on paper and use a hand-cranked mimeograph machine to produce the pages.
“They taught through that one book while they were translating the next book,” Tom said.
The Wayana were so hungry for the Word that as the pages came off the machine, tribespeople would grab them and read them. The Wayana would have church five days a week, Tom said, missing only Wednesdays and Saturdays, which were hunting days.
When all of the books of the New Testament were completed, the Schoens had them combined into a single volume. Then, work on the Old Testament began.
How long does it take to learn a tribal language, turn it into a written form, teach the people how to read, translate the entire Bible into that language, print and distribute it?
The Schoens started in 1961 and finished in 2021. By then, Ivan and Doris had retired and were living in Texas. Nuwahe was alive but frail, confined to his hammock. The Schoens wanted to come to the ceremony where the full Bible was presented but could not do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the Schoens were present via video link as Nuwahe received his Bible and hoisted it triumphantly into the air.
“It is beautiful,” Nuwahe said, weeping. “God is good. God is so good. I thought I might die before we would receive his completed Word.”
Lord Jesus, I praise you! Your word is now available to the Wayana people in their own language. Thank you for their hunger to learn and read God’s Word! Penetrate hearts with truth, grace and love that is now available to them.
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