Monday, March 7, 2011


"There's something for you." The dogs and I tracked my mom's voice into the office as she pulled a large white envelope from the bottom of the mail pile. "You have a package."

A package! I receive packages so rarely that I felt a bit sacrilegious opening the envelope, but there my name was, in large, well-formed letters, and with an expectant audience of four dogs and a mother, I didn't hesitate. As the shroud of paper fell off, I pulled out a book--a New Testament. At first, I didn't understand. Why me...? A small card fell to the side. "Dear Catherine," it read, "I was given this New Testament, and I thought you might find use for it in your ministry..." Her scripted handwriting wove a blessing of thoughtfulness through the card, and I was humbled by her generosity.

I slipped the Bible's cardboard cover to the side, ran my hands over the brown leather, the pages still stiff and uncracked. A fresh translation! it exclaimed. Copyright 2010... so new that the Old Testament is still in progress!

In progress? The words seemed to trip over themselves. To date, the Bible has nearly 500 English versions. Complete versions.

There are only about 500 languages with complete Bibles worldwide.

In March 2010, as the "fresh" English New Testament in my hands was being printed, the Kimyal people  received their New Testament as well. For the first time.

I encourage you to take six minutes and watch the following video as these people receive the Word of God. It is filmed in Papua, Indonesia (the other side of the island from Papua New Guinea; the proximity results in many cultural and environmental similarities).

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.

A week ago, I had the privilege of having dinner with the son of the woman who worked closely with these people. You can read more about her story here.

As I watch the Kimyal unwrap their precious package for the first time, I can see out of the corner of my eye my theology bookshelf and the new "fresh" Bible, standing without ceremony among several of its 500 cousins. I know my reaction is one born of a history of familiarity and of red-letter abbreviations gorging CBD catalogs.

And I wonder about the reaction of those who are still waiting.