In 2013 I traveled with a group of Wycliffe USA and Wycliffe Canada colleagues to Abancay, Peru, in the central Andes mountains. We came to celebrate with this community as they received their newly completed New Testament in the Eastern Apurímac Quechua language. And what a celebration it was!
Local church leaders worked together to plan this day for several months. On that Sunday morning in April, hundreds of men, women and children arrived at an open-air auditorium dressed in bright, colorful traditional clothing. Women held their children’s hands and carried infants on their backs in large, rectangular cloths called k'eperinas. Everyone came together to praise God through singing, Scripture reading and skits. People lined up outside the auditorium to purchase one of the newly printed New Testaments in their language.
Halfway through the festivities, I walked outside to get a cold drink and noticed a group of young moms forming a line next to me. Because I couldn’t speak their language, I wasn’t sure what was happening. One by one, they came up, handed me a baby and positioned their other children next to me. Then they took a picture! This impromptu photo session surprised and delighted me.
While I couldn’t understand anything these sweet moms said to me that day, I thanked God that they are my sisters in Christ. That very day they could read God’s Word in the language they think in, dream in and sing to their babies in. And I got to celebrate this milestone with them as part of the family of God!
This Bible translation project started when Mario Valverde moved to Abancay to pastor a small Quechua church. The congregation had a deep passion for God but only had access to the Bible and church services in Spanish. They wanted a Bible in their own language, and soon more pastors in the area with growing churches also began vocalizing their desire for Scripture in Eastern Apurímac Quechua. That passion from the local church led to a partnership with Wycliffe, and a translation led by local pastors.
“Many families had been waiting for this Bible in our language as though it were a delicious bread,” said Pastor Mario. “Now that we have God’s very words available to us in our Quechua dialect, we want our people to desire to seek God more and to understand how to live a better life on this earth that’s worthy of him.”
Although completing a Bible translation is an important task and is foundational for God’s church to flourish in a community, it’s just the starting place. It’s not about the Bible as a product; it’s about the life transformation that happens when people encounter God through his Word.
Drew Maust, a translation consultant in Cameroon, recounts the joy of one pastor in the Hdi community when he heard the priestly blessing from Numbers 6 in his language for the first time. Watch this video to hear how God’s Word is revealing Christ to the Hdi community.
Just as we’ve witnessed in other places around the world, God continues to grow this body of believers in Abancay and the surrounding area through engagement with Scripture in their language. Speakers of Eastern Apurímac Quechua were immediately equipped to start using the Scripture because of a literacy program run by AIDIA, a Peruvian organization focused on transforming the Apurímac region through the translation and application of God’s Word.
The joy and hope that comes from understanding Scripture continues to spread around the world as more people groups like this one receive the Bible. And just like those young moms from Abancay, Peru, their children will grow up learning about God’s love for them in a language and format they can clearly understand.