In the Andes mountains of Peru, in a town called Abancay, a 12-year-old boy received one of the greatest treasures ever — Scripture in his mother tongue. My wife, Dallas, and I had the privilege, along with several friends, of attending the celebration of the Eastern Apurímac Quechua New Testament in his community.
Johnnie Moore, vice president for Communications at Liberty University, was sitting in the back of the room during the long, exuberant celebration when he noticed a New Testament on the chair in front of him. Since the 12-year-old owner was quite engaged in the worship service, Johnnie decided to take a look at it.
Out of the corner of his eye, the young boy saw him reach for the New Testament. He turned around and gave Johnnie a stern look. Then he pointed his finger at Johnnie and waved it from side to side, clearly meaning, “Don’t you mess with my Bible.”
Johnnie says, “He didn’t speak my language and I didn’t speak his, but the message was loud and clear. That was a precious jewel that he had been given. I sat there and thought, ‘Who is this kid going to be one day? What is he going to do for God, what is he going to do for his country, and what can he do now that he can read those words?’ He was one of the first children in all of history to own an Eastern Apurímac Quechua New Testament. I will never forget the experience.”
After the song service ended, the boy sat down next to Dallas. He held his Bible quietly on his lap, not fidgeting or squirming. When the pastor instructed the congregation to turn to 2 Timothy 3, the boy started turning the pages. Dallas leaned over to help him. He let her find 2 Timothy, but then gently moved her hand aside and searched for the chapter and verse himself. He followed along with the pastor, his finger moving under each syllable. People behind him leaned over and followed along.
This boy was equipped to start using his New Testament immediately because of a literacy program run by AIDIA,* a Peruvian-run organization focused on transforming the Apurímac region through the translation and application of God’s Word in Quechua. In fact, he was even conducting a literacy class of his own with Quechuan grandmothers and Johnnie Moore leaning over his shoulder, learning to read as they compared the audible word with the printed word.
Clearly this was not the boy’s first encounter with the Good News, but on that day, Jesus sat down beside him, and gently, clearly spoke into his heart in a whole new way.