For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.
– Habakkuk 2:3 ESV
God’s timing doesn’t always feel perfect. Speaking for myself, I think I can be the queen of impatience. I like when things happen now; I’d rather not wait. And yet, God has shown me over and over that when we have patience (yes…when I have patience), things can come together in expected ways – better ways.
We’ve been meeting with people in the Kapingamarangi community over the last few days learning more about their Bible translation program. The theme I’ve been hearing in our interviews is God’s perfect timing. This community waited a long time before they began their translation project.
It was the Nukouran people who first introduced the Kapingamarangi to the gospel in the early twentieth century. It was also the Nukouru who helped them begin to figure out how they could do a Bible translation. The Kapingamarangi asked a Nukouran man to help them contact someone who could help them get their translation project started. Thus began more than ten years of dialogue with people involved in Bible translation work in the Pacific…and lots and lots of waiting.
Caleb, who leads the Kapingamarangi translation committee, shared with us that they ”waited, waited, waited.” But, he went on to talk about God’s perfect timing. “Sometimes God says you need to wait. God had a time for us to have it.”
While they waited, they prayed. God began to work in hearts. When the first requests for help went out, not everyone in the community was sure this was the best thing to do. While they prayed, God brought unity.
Caleb shared with us that the work ahead of them to translate the Bible into their language seemed impossible, but while they waited and prayed he learned “that nothing is impossible with God. With him anything can be done.”
Several years passed. Finally, someone experienced in Bible translation work was available to work with them as an advisor for their Bible translation program. The time was right. The whole community had gained interest in the project during those years they waited, and when the project began more than 20 volunteers from the community were ready to begin translation and about 100 volunteers were available for checking. In just four years they completed a translation of the New Testament in their language! During those years they waited they also raised funds through copra production and the sale of handicrafts. It was enough to cover the costs for printing their New Testaments.
They went on to translate about half of the Old Testament, but by then a couple of other communities in their other region became interested in starting translation projects, too. Instead of continuing on, the Kapingamarangi community released their translation advisor and also raised funds to help these new project begin.
When those new projects had their own translation advisors assigned, the Kapaingamarangi translation committee started up their translation work again. Now they hope to complete a translation of the whole Bible into their language by the end of the year.
Praise God for his timing!
* Photo of members of the Kapingamarangi Bible translation committee by Elyse Patten