The Land between Two Elephants
I have been in the land between two elephants, which sounds like I was in some tropical country with grassy plains and roaming herds. I wasn’t. It was a land with modern conveniences all around, hot water for warm showers (the true mark of civilization!), and Internet connections readily available. It is a tiny country between two larger ones.
This lady I had just met less than an hour before was talking in French to me. That in itself was not a surprise to me, because I had been talking to her and the group before me in French for at least a half hour. But I wasn’t in France. I was presenting information about Bibles International to this group of people who were forming a reading committee to help with a new translation. The lady’s name was Monique, a French name, but she wasn’t French either. If you had taken her out of that living room and placed her in an office in the US, you would not have noticed her as different from any American businesswoman. But I had already heard her conversing in two other languages besides French, so she definitely was not an American businesswoman.
She was telling the group that she uses French and German every day in her office work, and that she had read the Bible in French and German many times. But when she took home the first portion of the Luxembourgish New Testament we were testing, the Gospel of John, she, who had been a Christian for many years was touched in her heart as never before by the Word of God. She was saying the same thing I have heard many times in more remote countries, which is that the Bible in someone’s heart language speaks to them like nothing else. It was proving true in Luxembourg also, even though most of the population is literate, economically well off, well educated, and able to read and speak two to three other languages besides Luxembourgish.
Luxembourg is the “land between two elephants,” a small country at the corner of France, Germany, and Belgium (another small country, but one that is ten times the size of Luxembourg). The two elephants are France and Germany, and more importantly their languages. Most people in the country speak French and German, but the language that identifies them is Luxembourgish. Even though the country has struggled for existence and struggled against annexation or absorption by the “elephants,” their tenacity as a people has kept them not only alive, but well and prospering. Their language defines them in many respects. Their motto as a nation, as seen in the words on the turret in the picture above, is “Mir wölle bleiwe wat mir sin,” which means “We want to remain what we are.” They have remained what they are for centuries, having successfully resisted the political, economic, and ethnic attacks that have come against them.
So the elephants have not crushed the little Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In fact, Luxembourg in the European Economic Union has grown in importance. And now, step by step, a tenacious people who have everything else but a Bible in their own language are getting that Bible through the equally tenacious efforts of a small group of believers, the people pictured below. I just spent two weeks working with them, teaching, discussing, helping. Won’t you pray for them as they move ahead toward their goal?
|Lynn Weiland, Richard Visser, Tim Heijermans, Glenn Kerr, Bob Thompson, Françoise and Jacques Bernard, Miriam and David Schartz