Last year I introduced you to my hero, June Oulund. Today I’d like to introduce you to two more of my heroes.
We spent the weekend with my college roommate Gerry Andersen and his wife Julie. Though we haven’t seen each other for almost twenty years, it’s like our relationship was on pause and we took up the conversation instantly.
Where Have They Been?
Gerry and Julie live in a small village in the mountains of Mexico with people who have never had their language in written form.
Think about that, if you are a native English speaker — Old English is one thousand years old and — Modern English has been in written form for almost five hundred years.
The dialect Gerry and Julie translate has only been in written form for the past decade. Crazy!
What Do They Do?
The Andersens, and their native translation partner Juan, work tirelessly to craft a transition from the ancient New Testament text originally written in Greek into an equally noteworthy community language hidden on the Mexican jungle mountainsides.
Jesus Christ’s biographer Luke’s text is their current project. The translation project is far along the road to completion, but as Julie explains, “the finish line is still ahead of us. About 60% is publishable and the other 40% is in the last two stages of revision.”
One of the many challenges is trying to identify a local word which effectively expresses a two thousand year old biblical word. The word “holy” is one a handful of the terms that is still being clarified.
In January Gerry started working on translating the New Testament book of Acts. Juan has it already drafted, a huge head start that they didn’t have when they began translating Luke.
Why Do They Do It?
The Andersen’s work in Mexico means that they are far from family, far from friends in the U.S., far from the comforts they grew up with, learning a new language, a new culture, making new friends and (slowly) transforming lives.
Their work is distinct, compelling, tedious, and inspiring. Gerry said that though the work is hard, and progress is slower than they would prefer, “I have the greatest job in the world.”
Q – Why do they do it?
A – They’re convinced that Jesus Christ is right:
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” 1
Or, as the Andersen’s Mexican neighbors would say, “Pala ti laputun kilimakgelhtauakget, kalakgmakgalh na ixnakuj tu yakgxtunpuuan uan katayalh kakukalh ixcruz chaliyan uan kitakgokgelh. Latsa ti makgputaxtiputun ixtatlauj yu nak kakilhtamakuj uatsa namakgasputkgo, chu pala ti makgasputli ixtatlauj yaka kilakachatun uatsa ixtatlauj namakgaputaxti.” 2
“What good would it do,” Jesus asked, “to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?“
Compelling words that the Andersen’s live by.
They’re two of my heroes, and I knew you’d want to know about them too.
1 – Luke 9:23-24, MSG
2 – Luke 9:23-24, TNT
3 – If you would like more information — or want to support their amazing work — email me at mysilentscreamforscott at gmail.com and I’ll gladly pass it onto them.