Rev Jenny Park, Methodist Superintendent minister, welcomed all to the second in the Lent Lecture series. The lecture was also made available as an audio download via the Spalding Baptist church website.
Madeline Reynard, now a volunteer for Bible Society, noted how the Authorised Version of the Bible has so deeply influenced the political, social and spiritual world over the last 400 years since it was first printed in 1611.
It was the first English translation acceptable to everyone, quoted by Shakespeare, bringing about standardised spelling and introducing words like 'scapegoat' and 'ruthless' as well as phrases in common use these days. In her studies in Hebrew, Madeline had received insight into the richness of the written word. For example, the phrase we read as 'A man after his own heart' comes from the Biblical Hebrew where 'apple of his eye' reads as the 'pupil of your beloved’s eye'. She added how when God looks into our eyes, God wants us to reflect him in our lives.
Over time, further corrections and amplification has answered the needs of differing cultures and languages, and far from alienating others, the Bible is now available in other tongues and styles to help readers grow in their personal relationship with God.
Isaiah 53 v5 ('He was wounded for our transgressions...') includes the words 'transgressions', 'iniquities' and 'chastisement' in the KJV; many a young person doesn’t understand these words. The Good News bible (Today's English Version), published by Bible Society, offers this: "because of the evil we have done".
Bible Society provides the Bible in people’s own language. In some cultures, the word 'Holy' translates as 'Words of Love'.
Solomon Islands felt unimportant and unloved by God without a Bible in their own language. With a translation team including local people, Bible Society translated the Bible from the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic; it took 23 years to complete. The native translator worked with the team throughout – he did it so his people could know God’s love. The people there say "God's one of us now, he speaks to our heart."
Our speaker described the sad story from an Argentinian tribe of a 13 year old boy who had been laid in a grave for burial. After a few days, he began to move. In response to his restoration to life, he began the work of translating teh Bible from his native Wichí Lhamtés Vejoz language of the 23,000 locals, eventually completing the work by the time he was 70. The people there now understand these ‘True Words’ saying how they now understand with depth of meaning. Instead of trusting different spirits, they listen to God – all because of the response of one boy.
You’ve got the time', created with the help of the Riding Lights Theatre Company as an iTunes download to meet the needs of this age. The New Testament is divided into 42 sections split into seven chapters a day to allow time for meditation. The idea is to encourage the minister to bring the previous seven days bible reading together from the pulpit and, done across a town, every church will have heard the whole of the NT within a year.
Madeline emphasised the passionate message of the gospel, with the simple choice of following Jesus: choose him now and receive eternal life; don’t choose him and end up with eternal death. Christianity is the only faith that can offer security of eternal life. It’s the best gift we can give to anyone in the world. No-one’s too lonely, too wrong to receive the life changing message within the Bible. That should be truly inspiring to all of us. People around the world are living their lives by the Bible.
In Ethiopia, the national Bible Society run bookshops where, in Addis Ababa, thousands of Bibles are sold every week. People in Ethiopia will travel a fortnight to queue and be given a Bible. Even if the shop has sold out, they wait on the pavement. They could sell the Bible for drugs, food and medication – but they faithfully walk home to those hungry for the Bible.
Madeline reminded us of the time when Philip spoke with the Ethiopian in Acts 8. He took Christianity back to Ethiopia and now 62% of the population are Christian. In the year 2000, there were only 10 mosques in the country; there are now 180. In response, there has been a 42% rise in church attendance and there is a demand for the Bible.
a solar and wind-up powered Bible reader, The Proclaimer (left) allows the whole church to hear God’s word. Madeline demonstrated how to wind up the unit, noting how the cost had halved due to the number being bought.
Madeline described how Bibles are now being printed, also noting the dramatic growth of the church in the country. New printing presses in China are able to print Bibles at the rate of one every second, but are running at a third of the capacity simply because they need paper.
China has the best example to date where all the major denominations are pulling together to encourage people to read the Bible. 92.8% of China is literate. It is estimated that, within a decade, there will be ½bn Chinese Christians. 50m Bibles have been printed for these believers, with 500,000 believer baptisms each year. 162,000 believers to one pastor. A minister sees it as his mission to get a Bible for every member of his flock.
In some parts of China, Bibles are so scarce that the people tear it up page by page and learn a page overnight; they then swap pages with one another and keep swapping until they've learnt the whole Bible by heart. They’re able to recite it in order.
Madeline concluded noting that as God’s Spirit sweeps across the continents, Bible Society is determined to meet the needs of these new believers. Madeline exhorted the audience to join the challenge to help the 2bn people who are waiting for a Bible. It is up to the west to raise the £360 for a ream of paper to then print 650 Bibles. Madeline suggested that it was not too much to give eternal life at just 60 pence per Bible. Madeleine noted that we are in the end times – it won’t be long now. God does the saving, but they need access to his word. We can provide it for them. We will meet these people in heaven and our main reward will be these people coming up to us and thank us.