Faith Comes by Hearing

Almost two years ago, I got to work with a team of Banjara people in beginning the translation of God’s Word into their heart language. VanKenna, a young man in the group, had come against the wishes of his family. Indeed he was an outcast in his community ever since becoming a Christian. His father was completely baffled as to why he would want to be part of this translation project. But VanKenna was convinced that the only way to bring change to his community was through the Word of God.

By the end of the workshop the team of ten translators and helpers had translated and checked the book of Acts. We were able to print these out in booklet form for each participant to take back to their villages and share with the people.

During the past eighteen months the translators have continued to work on drafting the New Testament in the Banjara language. All of it has now been drafted and this year they plan to gather in a central location and edit each other’s work before getting it printed. VanKenna has been one of the most eager and consistent workers on this project.

I have stayed in touch with one of the leaders of this project since last February but I had not heard anything from VanKenna, until last month. I sent the team leader a short survey of questions on how the newly translated Scripture was impacting the community.

This is what Vankenna had to say about the Scripture’s impact:

From the time I started the Banjara translation I was sharing the gospel  with my parents and other family members. My father, a communist and an atheist,  was against me. Over these last several months I have shared God’s Word in his own language with my father. He has become less and less resistant. A few months ago he was in a car accident and injured his leg. I was able to share the gospel with him while he was lying in bed from this injury. Now my father is a child of God; He has believed and  been baptized; once he was deadly against the scripture–today he has hope and faith. He loves the Lord, is an active member of the church, supporting the gospel and seizing any chance to witness for the Lord. My brothers too have come to faith. I praise the Lord.

Then he says these incredible words, My family is an example of what’s happening in the community!

God’s Word is doing exactly what He says it will do! Romans 10:17 states plainly, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” This truth is played out among Vankenna’s family and others of the Banjara nation.

This testimony of Vankenna reminds me of the powerful purpose of God to draw a people to himself from every tongue tribe and nation. I stand overwhelmed, in awe, undone by His tenacious grace and empowerment to invite me to play a part in his awesome plan. Truly getting to serve in the Kingdom is the rarest of gifts.

Weak Faith, Powerful Answers

“God,” I whispered as I finished packing my carry-on for my trip to Florida. “It’d sure be nice if someone would just give me a wad of spending money for my time in Florida.” I chuckled to myself as I finished. Where did that come from? I wondered. I’m going to Florida to work at WA, not vacation. What do I need spending money for? I had just completed managing our month-end business, and was not surprised to come to the end of the month  with an obvious gap between expenses and income. Since Joel’s neck pain has made it impossible for him to work, this has become pretty common. I had confidence God could handle those deficits, but it seemed a bit frivolous to ask for spending money!

Boarding the plane a couple hours later, my simple prayer was, “God please let me get a good seat.” I sighed with relief as I saw an available window seat, empty middle seat and middle-aged man in the aisle seat. Stowing my luggage I settled in against the window and opened my book.

As we pulled away from the gate, the guy in the aisle seat leaned over and commented, “Looks like we’re gonna keep this empty seat.” I chucked and nodded.  It’s always nice to have a little extra room. Then he continued with another comment about travel and vacationing in Hawaii. I answered politely but didn’t really plan to get into a long conversation with a stranger I’d never see again after this flight.

But instead as we lifted off He asked me,”What do you do that you travel so much?” Here goes.  I thought.

“Well,” I answered, “It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Actually I work with an organization that helps minority groups around the world to get Scripture translated into their heart language.”

He drew back in surprise. His eyes wide, he exclaimed, “That’s why this seat is empty! God does this too me all the time! The Holy Spirit wanted that seat empty.”  That wasn’t the response I had expected. I thought.  But I’m open. Maybe God did intend for us to sit next to each other. After all, I did ask for a good seat.

For the next two hours, this man spoke words of encouragement and challenge, sharing his story with me, and asking questions about my life and ministry.  He spoke openly of his journey through the trauma of addiction to knowing God more intimately. He asked questions about each of my boys and husband, our life, our calling, our hopes.

As we neared Orlando, he got up to go to the bathroom; when he returned he leaned over and said, “Now you can’t say ‘no’ to this, because it’s from the Lord.”

“No to what?” I wondered.

“Just the other day I got some unexpected revenue in my business, and God told me it wasn’t for me. He said he would show me who it was for. I was pretty sure it was you, but I just went away now to talk with God and makes sure I was hearing him correctly. So I want to give you this, but it’s not me. It’s really from him.” And with that he handed me  three $100 bills! “This is just spending money.” He said. “You can’t pay bills or give this away to someone else who needs it. This is for you. Spend it on you!”

Tears blurred my vision as my almost-flippant prayer form earlier in the day played in my mind.  “I hear you, and I open my hands to show you my extravagant love,” God whispered to my heart.   Indeed he answers prayers, even those offered in weak faith.


In Spanish we have a word for active waiting, pendiente. It means to be available, to wait expectantly, but without angst, to anticipate but with patience.  It is not a rushed or stressful word. It is a pause, with an expectation of an end to the pause at some point. When I was a kid, I remember my dad saying to one of his friends who was going to be gone for the day, but assured dad he would be back that evening with whatever it was Dad had asked for, “OK, I’ll be here, pendiente.” In other words, I’ll  be around. Google translator says this use of pendiente is untranslatable into English. Hmmm, is that some kind of commentary on our hurry-up culture? The idea of waiting with expectancy, availability and anticipation but without irritation and impatience is rather foreign to us.

Alas, in spite of my own familiarity with this word and its meaning, I’m afraid the concept has often eluded me in practical application. I have waited—a lot. I have waited expectantly, impatiently, and petulantly. I have also waited without much motivation or anticipation at all—which can sometimes look like patience, but is really just indifference. This idea of waiting patiently, while still being expectant, is one I am not naturally inclined toward.

Yet, as I was looking up verses in Scripture about waiting, this seems to be exactly the posture God calls us to. Consider the following verses:

  • “I waited patiently for the Lord, then he listened to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1) So his wait was patient, but he was still crying out to the Lord, expectant of God’s intervention.
  • Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) In the middle of two commands to wait for the Lord is a reminder to be strong and take heart. This is no passive wait. This is a time to develop strength and bravery.
  • “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:7-8) James likens our wait to the farmers. The farmer knows the process. He is active in it, and yet he waits for the appointed time of harvest.

This morning I read the story of Simeon who, as Luke puts it, “was waiting for the consolation of Israel.” Luke adds, “And the Spirit of the Lord was on him.” He was waiting, and the Spirit was present. God’s Spirit was ON him in the middle of his wait. And he was active. We know this because he was at the temple. The Bible is clear—this guy was old. He had waited a LONG time. And he could have been a bit tired in both body and soul. But his wait was active, motivated by the Spirit of God on him, so that when the Spirit moved him—who had been pendiente for much of his life—he followed that lead and went into the temple courts where he encountered Joseph and Mary, coming with the infant Messiah to dedicate Him. Now I might have been tempted to think or even say, “Are you sure, Lord? This is what I’ve been waiting for all this time? A tiny baby in the arms of a teen-age girl and her carpenter husband from Nazareth?”

But that’s not his response at all. Because Simeon wasn’t waiting on his own expectations. He was waiting on the Lord to fulfill His promise in exactly His way. Thus when he saw this child his response was not disappointment but grand delight. It was more than he ever dreamed of. He had waited for the “consolation of Israel” but when he held Jesus he knew this was the “Salvation of the Lord for all people.”  What a revelation! Simeon waited actively, moved by the Spirit, and when he saw God’s answer, it was away better than he had dreamed.

This gives me hope. It gives me courage. But it also lays down the gauntlet in my own life. Will I wait for my own expectations or for the Lord? Because only when I’m waiting on the Lord can my wait be active, patient, pendiente.

God’s Lavish Love is NOT a Zero-sum Game

Recently Roman was interviewed by the principal of the new school he is attending this year. When the principal asked him what he knew and thought about Jesus, his response started with, “Well, I know that he is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, which means he’s basically sovereign over everything.” He went on to  address God’s sovereignty, the sinful condition of our world, our own need to believe on Jesus and accept his death as the penalty for our sins, why suffering exists in the world, how God is good and always has a good plan, and the responsibility of every Christian to seek ways to invite other people to believe on Jesus. It was not only thorough, but expressive, deep, well-developed, and surprisingly insightful. I sat there in awe, and thought, “Where did he get all of this? It’s all true and exactly what I want him to know. But I didn’t teach him this, did I?” Then God whispered to me, “My Spirit in you taught him this. My Spirit in Him grew his understanding. My Spirit in his dad, his grandparents, his teachers…my Spirit taught him.” Once again I’m struck by the exponential power of God released all around us when we walk in obedience to him! God’s lavish love grows in us as we allow him to flow through us to invite others into that love.

I have to admit that I often forget that God doesn’t operate from a zero-sum platform. In other words, there isn’t a limited amount of Him or his goodness to go around. His lavish love will never be used up, by you or me or anyone else. It’s not like sharing Him with others ever depletes my supply; it can only increase it! Instead of losing out or sacrificing, I am gaining exponentially when I share the love and power of God with someone else. And what’s even more amazing, the little I pour out grows in the lives of those who receive it!

God is into growth, exponential growth, powerful, rippling, amazing growth. But it starts with one little seed. Jesus told his disciples that faith like a mustard seed would move a mountain. He was expressing the exact opposite of the zero-sum game. In a zero-sum game, exactly what you give out is received by someone else, and when it’s all out, it’s all out. What one person takes diminishes what the other person has. But with God, one tiny mustard seed grows and expands and impacts. What one gives is multiplied, what one receives is multiplied. No good thing ever runs out. That is the kingdom! That is the hope of eternity. That is the God-sum platform of Christianity. What He does in us grows, flourishes produces fruit 30, 60 and 100-fold.  When we bless others, we are blessed. And when we receive a blessing from others, they are blessed. The generous, lavish heart of the Father never tires of growing in us a greater understanding of him, a greater desire to share him, and a greater hunger for more!

When I think of Roman’s answer, I am humbled. Because I see that God has taken what he did in and through me, and is using it to bless me over and over and over again…exponentially, extravagantly, eternally.

The Joy of the Ultimate

“For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  This is a familiar verse for many of us. We marvel that Paul made this bold statement from a prison cell in Rome, awaiting probable execution because of his testimony. But honestly, sometimes it takes a stripping away of everything for us to truly see what matters.  In other passages of Scripture, Paul expressed the loss, persistent persecution, trauma and difficulties he had faced and how desperate he had felt, even to survive. And now, here he is, sitting in  custody, with a deep, confident joy. Because he has found the one thing that really matters. Paul is talking to the Philippians Christians exhorting them to live joyfully. He makes this bold statement right after explaining how some people are actually preaching the gospel out of spite, hoping to add to Paul’s misery! (Which was a lot less likely than they expected since he wasn’t miserable to begin with. How do you add to what’s not there?)  About their efforts, Paul says, ‘It doesn’t really matter. It’s like a win-win for me. If the gospel is being preached, I’m good.”  Then he goes on to express his absolute certainty that God will work out his deliverance and that he will not be put to shame, whether through living or dying. Again he comes to the conclusion, “It’s a win-win.”

Finally he boils it down to “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” I am struck by the connection of these two statements; the first makes the second possible. Mark Buchanan suggests, “Imagine if Paul had said, ‘For me to live is nightclubs. To live is stocks and bonds. To live is golf.’ Then to die is always loss.” Wow! That puts the whole idea of in stark perspective. What we live for determines whether we view death as loss or gain!

That made me stop and think, what do I live for? What is it that I’m pouring my life, energy and time into? Because if it isn’t Christ and His kingdom, then dying is a great loss.

On the other hand I’m also compelled to ask myself, How do I view dying? Is it a gain? Or a loss? Or just an inevitable reality looming out there somewhere? Because if dying isn’t gain, then my life is far too short-sighted, and my efforts are temporal—certainly not Christ and his kingdom.

Two things stick out to me:

1. Living for Christ results in seeing death as gain,
2. because death is the gateway to the eternal. It is not the end; it is the beginning.

Paul lived for the glory of Christ. For him to go on living, meant more opportunities to express the truth of the gospel. And to die, meant meeting his Savior face to face, hearing him say, “Great job! I’m so glad you are home!” Paul could write about joy because he was living out the joy of looking beyond death into eternity.

The writer of Hebrews tells us the same thing about Jesus, “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross…” Jesus endured, because he had the expectation of eternal joy, not just for himself but for each of us. Jesus looked at the mutual joy of all of us throughout eternity and said, “to die is gain.”

Sometimes in the daily grind, I find that I’m living for something temporal—a moment to sit down a read my book in quiet, an answer to Joel’s pain, a break from the constant running, a good meal that I didn’t cook, or something equally enjoyable. Good things, even needful things. But if I’m living for them, they become nooses, wrapping around my neck, cutting off my air, and dragging me to a place of loss. Because there’s more to live. There’s more. So much more.

To live is Christ! It has to be Christ. Living any other way sucks the life right out of me!

Staying the Course

Today I was reading about John the Baptist’s arrest and imprisonment. He had openly announced the Messiah, proclaiming to his own disciples, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He had seen that Jesus came as the “Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world” not merely as some political deliverer. John, perhaps better than anyone saw Jesus as the Spiritual Messiah, the Savior. And yet, as he languished in prison, John had the terrifying thought, “What if I’m all wrong! What if this man isn’t the one all of our prophecies point to. After all, I’m still in here. He hasn’t come to my rescue.” So he sends a contingent of disciples to ask Jesus point-blank, “Are you THE ONE, or should we wait for another?”

John’s question is viable. He hasn’t been around to witness the miracle. Further more, his life is hanging in the balance! If he has been wrong all along, he needs to know. John’s question comforts me. A man so close to Jesus, so respected by Jesus, is racked with questions in his hour of suffering. At least he is asking the right question. (And the right person!)

Jesus’s answer has always surprised me. This is his message. “Tell him what you see and hear—-tell him of the miracles, and then tell him, blessed are those who do not stumble because of me!”

It doesn’t seem like a very sympathetic or winsome answer. “Tell him all about the people being set free out here.” (Never mind that he’s locked up and likely going to die in jail.) And then almost a warning, “Don’t fall away because I’m not running to your rescue, because I’m not fulfilling your expectations.” Or maybe Jesus is saying, “Don’t let what you think I promised distract you from truly believing in me.”

We don’t get to see or hear John’s response. But we do know that Jesus told his followers that no one born among men was greater than John. We know that Jesus held his cousin in high esteem. And we know that John did die for his rugged, bold statements of the truth. Jesus didn’t stop that from happening. He didn’t save his own cousin from the ultimate sacrifice. And he didn’t save himself. Instead he stayed the course, so he could save a world. Because Jesus’ plans, his purpose, his intentions are even bigger than what John imagined. Maybe they far exceed my petty imagination as well.

Holy Ground in the Wilderness

One of the true blessings of my time in Botswana this summer was our daily time of corporate singing, teaching of the word and prayer. The cultural differences peaked my interest, but more than that, they opened my eyes and my heart to a worship of God unfettered by my own “standard”. Here the pastors expound on God’s Word to us was precious and challenging. Solomon, a  young man of the Chiikahani tribe shared on one more about  God’s design and timing, reminding us that often Holy Ground is to be found in the wilderness.

As I reflected on my own wilderness experiences I could indeed see where I had found myself on holy ground.  This reminder encouraged my heart and challenged me to believe God for good even on the “back side of the wilderness.” I tucked it away as another treasure from God, mined in the desert of Botswana.

Last week, I sat in a hospital cafeteria with a cup of coffee and my computer, trying to make the most of the time I had to wait for Joel to get out of surgery. He was having a second procedure  on his neck, this time,  to implant an electrical stimulator that would mitigate some of his constant pain. It wasn’t a high risk surgery and he was supposed to be done in time to go home the same day. We were hopeful he would actually leave the hospital in considerably less pain than when we arrived, as one nurse had assured us this indeed happens with patients who have this surgery.

But alas, that was not to be the case with Joel. I stared at the surgeon mystified as he explained that unfortunately something was blocking movement along the spine and he could not place the lead wire where it needed to go! After several attempts and a second incision further up his spinal column, the surgeon decided he had put Joel through enough trauma. Closing Joel back up, he wrapped up the surgery, with no device in place!

My heart just ached as I thought how Joel was going to feel, waking up and being told the surgery was useless. I could imagine his interpretation of anything the surgeon tried to explain to him would sound something like this: “Sorry, instead of helping you with pain, we’ve just added to it!”  It isn’t easy news for my weary heart to digest. How is he going to take it? I wondered.

I didn’t have to wait long. As they brought him back to the room where he would finish his recovery, he offered me a quirky grin and said, “Well I guess that didn’t work.”

“I’m so sorry. I just feel terrible for you!” I said.

“Oh, I felt like crying for you when they told me.” Joel answered. I sighed and almost laughed.
And that was it, a moment of holy ground in the middle of our wilderness. A moment of God giving us the grace to grieve for one another and accept the outcome together.

We might not be on the back side of the desert, but more than three years of chronic pain, two surgeries, physical therapy, chiropractics, pain medication of any and every kind, sure does feel like the middle of a dry and weary place.  But we keep finding  that it’s not an empty place. He is here. The fire of his presence burns warm in us, around us, through us. And the promise of His provision for the future offers us rest.

The Washing of the Water of the Word

A favorite part of my ministry with Wycliffe Associates is the time I get to spend studying the Word with other believers from various cultures. As we work together to translate Scripture so that other minority languages can read His Word in their heart language, God takes that very Word and works it into our hearts, giving us new insight, building our faith, and empowering us to proclaim His truth to others.

During the workshop, the translators are saturated with Scripture. After a portion has been translated one of the steps in the process of checking that portion is working through the translation with the translator and making sure that it is not only clearly expressed but also accurate. I get to sit with the translator and their editor and ask questions, discuss the meaning of the passage, and check for key words and concepts.

Last month in Botswana, I was working through this step with a young man named Teboho, reading through his translation of Romans 11; we struggled to affirm that the complex subject of Israel’s disobedience, opening the door for the Gentiles was clearly expressed.

As we read this verse, “Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it,” (Romans 11:12 NIV) Teboho, sat back, threw his hands in the air and cried, “I’m starting to understand this for the first time! I can’t believe it. This passage is amazing!”

“Tell me what you are understanding!” I said, catching his enthusiasm. The living quality of God’s Word was once again evidenced before my eyes!

“Really what Paul is saying here is that God can use people’s disobedience to open doors for other people to know him. And if God can do that, how much more blessing is there when people choose to obey him!”  Teboho explained. Then he shook his head in awe. “It’s really good. I’m going to have to study it more.”

Like others at this workshop—and many workshops around the world—Teboho has studied Scripture in second langauge his whole Christian life. He doesn’t have a translation of God’s Word into his own language to study from—not yet anyway. Teboho’s English is excellent. His understanding of Scripture and his passion for God’s Word are powerful. His enthusiasm for getting God’s Word translated into his own language is unquenchable. Because Teboho has experienced for himself the difference it makes to hear God’s Word in his own heart language. He has felt the power of God’s message moving through the channels of his life, speaking clearly of God’s love and desire for people to be in relationship with him. And he can’t wait to share that precious gift—that blessing with others. For Teboho has seen for himself “how much more blessing there is when people choose to obey him.”

Of Dreams and Prayers

Southern Botswana is an arid place, especially in late July—their winter. A vibrant blue sky devoid of clouds greeted us each morning.  After about 3 days, I asked the team of Bible translators that I was working with, when the rains would come. It was obvious that they didn’t expect rain for at last another month. Rain is a symbol of blessing and in a society that relies heavily on  ranching it is an obvious necessity. Their word for rain—Pula—is a word they shout as a chant of encouragement or empowerment. Interestingly they have also named their form of money pula.

I love rain, both because of its symbolism, and because I grew up in the rain forest, so it reminds me of home. Every time it starts to rain, I have the urge to run outside and skip and dance! Water falling from the sky, landing on my skin feels like a kiss from my Father.

So I began to pray for rain before I left Botswana. I knew it was out of season. I knew it would be a miracle if rain came. I knew it would be celebrated by the community as a blessing. It seemed like a good thing to pray for. After all, God is in control of the weather, and he delights to give good gifts to his children. I prayed daily, several times a day for rain. And sure enough, clouds began to appear on our sixth day in Gaborone. They gathered to create full cloud cover by the evening of our ninth day. I was beginning to feel confident that God was going to answer my plea for rain. I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas!

That night I had a dream. I was gathering with some of our team members to get to an event we were supposed to attend. We were rushing and as is common in dreams,  many things went awry or changed so  that we couldn’t seem to complete our task and get to the event. When we had finally finished everything and were back at our hotel, I looked out the window and saw that it was raining hard! And it had been raining for awhile! It dawned on me that in our distraction and busy-ness I had totally ignored the very rain I had prayed for. I rushed outside to stare up at the sky which was beginning to clear, and I thanked God for sending the rain.

As I awoke, the significance of the dream sank in. I’m not likely to miss rain in the desert, but how often do I miss his miracles falling down all around me because I’m so focused on how I plan for him to answer. Do I recognize His hand and thank Him when the rain comes in different ways than I expect? Or out of time?  When God says no or not now do I forget? Do I miss his answers for all my headlong rush into the next thing?

With these probing questions in my heart, over the next several days, I began to look for and see His answers falling like raindrops in the dust! The prayers for safety, health, and energy—answered. The prayers for unity as a team—answered. The prayers for His blessing to just seep out of us to everyone we came in contact with—answered (most specifically in a couple of the hotel staff who really connected with us, came to visit with us during breaks and asked for Bibles from the workshop!) The prayers for wisdom facing challenges—answered. The prayers to stay the enemy’s efforts to thwart our work—answered. So many miraculous drops watering our souls, watering our team, watering His Kingdom!

I guess my perfect ending would be to announce that on our last day it poured rain—literal rain! But it didn’t. God said no to my prayer for actual rain in Gaborone while we were there. Maybe my perfect ending isn’t the best ending after all. Maybe the rain of a dream that reminded me to focus on Him and His good gifts, is better than anything I was actually expecting. Maybe, just maybe, he really does send rain in ways I far-to-often miss.

God’s Perfect Design

Our last day in Botswana; actually our flight leaves in the afternoon. The Bible translation workshop has been completed, and although I’m exhausted I feel more alive than ever. It’s as if God’s hand has physically moved among us for two weeks, and I’m in awe of the way he works. Our host, Jacob, has offered to take us on a drive out of town to a rocky hill where we can climb up to a famous cave.

As we cruise along, the sun rises on the dusty fields clothed in brown tufts of grass, with an occasional squat tree. It is an African panorama just like the storybooks. “This cave we are going to,” Jacob tells us, “Is famous because when Dr. David Livingstone came to our country to preach the gospel, he met with the chief of the village who lived below the cave. The chief listened to Livingstone’s story about God and how he had sent Jesus Christ to be our Savior, and when he was done, he told Livingstone, ‘It’s a good story. I like it. But I can’t believe it. We already have a god. He lives in that cave.’ And he pointed to the rock cave in the side of the hill where we are going. Then the chief told Livingstone, ‘The only way I could believe your God, is if you go up into that cave and come back out alive. Then I’ll know your God is the true God above any other. Livingstone looked at him and said,  ‘Very well. I will not only climb up into that cave, I will spend the night in there. And when I come back, you will know that my God is the true God, and that my gospel is the true way for man to come to God. The chief agreed, and off Livingstone went. Sure enough, when he came back the next day unharmed the chief accepted the gospel message and immediately became a Christian. Not only that, he used his influence over the community and soon most of them had also believed the gospel. These were the first converts in Botswana!” Jacob finishes the story, a note of pride in his voice
Then he adds, “This is my village; that chief was the chief of my tribe. Our people were the first to believe the gospel!”

“What!” I exclaim unable to suppress my excitement and surprise. “You mean to tell me that you and your family are the living fruit of Dr. Livingstone’s ministry here? And God’s plan more than one hundred years ago to prove himself more powerful than any god of that cave, has produced a harvest I’m witness to?”

Jacob nods with another chuckle. “Yes, it’s true. That’s how it happened.”

I sit back and watch as the glow of the morning sun brightens. An intersection and we turn left. Rocky hills crop up on the right, and then Jacob is easing the truck onto a dirt path. The cave, looms several hundred feet above us in the side of a huge rock outcropping near the top of one hill.

This is where God gave the gospel a foothold in Botswana. And now more than one hundred and fifty years later, our ministry of Bible translation is possible because of the legacy of Dr. David Livingstone. This cave, an enduring phenomenon of creation, is suddenly so much more. It is a marker to God’s faithfulness, a reminder that His Word runs through all the earth.

My mind flashes forward in time, as I try to imagine what God might have planned in the next one hundred and fifty years, and how our simple acts of obedience sown in the dusty soil of Africa might produce fruit for eternity.