At just five years old, Sam Anderson decided to pray for the people of Easter Island to receive God’s Word. That began an almost 45-year connection with the Rapa Nui and the people called to serve them.
Sam’s parents, John and Joy Anderson, were missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. In 1975 they were serving in Nevada and working on the Northern Paiute New Testament translation.
“As kids we were given an allowance and if we did chores around the house, we received a wage from Mom and Dad, a whopping 10 cents an hour,” Sam recalled, laughing.
Like his siblings, 5-year-old Sam placed a tithe of his earnings in an old metal Twinings Tea box. The money would go toward supporting a Wycliffe translation project somewhere in the world.
“There was a large world map on one of walls near that box where we could stick a pin on a location indicating a [people group] we wanted to pray for and to support the mission team there,” Sam explained.
Sam studied the map and was interested in Easter Island, 2,300 miles off the west coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean. He placed his pin on Easter Island and said he wanted to pray for and give toward the translation project there.
There was only one problem with Sam’s choice: there wasn’t a translation project on the island yet. Sam told his parents that he would pray for one to get started.
As Sam lifted up Easter Island, he was unaware of how God was working in the lives of Bob and Nancy Weber.
HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD
Bob and Nancy Weber grew up in Peru and, like Sam, they were children of Wycliffe missionaries. The Webers had married around the time Sam began to pray for Easter Island and were asking God how he wanted to use them to further his kingdom and help bring hope through Bible translation.
Months later, Sam’s parents would receive a letter from a friend in SIL* who mentioned that Bob and Nancy were being assigned to a new project on Easter Island! The Webers were to first focus on strengthening the Rapa Nui language — which was facing possible extinction — and then on translating the New Testament into Rapa Nui.
Bob and Nancy initially learned about Sam through financial gifts that came up on their statement from Wycliffe. “We had no idea that he was just a child [at the time] or that he had started praying for us when he was a very small boy,” Nancy said. “So we wrote our thank‑you notes to a ‘Mr.’ Sam Anderson.”
The Webers discovered that Sam had begun praying for someone to start a translation for the people of Easter Island and had also sold stationary in order to have gifts to send to the Webers. So Bob and Nancy decided to write Sam a thank‑you letter. They told him when they had first been interested in Easter Island — just after he started praying in 1975!
“That really impacted me as a kid,” Sam recalled, “to be praying for something of that importance and then seeing God bring it to fruition.”
Over four decades of work on Easter Island, Bob and Nancy saw the Lord answer so many of their prayers — from taking care of them and their three children to protecting the translation work in the face of opposition to providing the funds to pay the translators who joyfully and selflessly assisted them.
“Our clear call to the island and to the translation for the Rapa Nui, and the knowledge that many people were praying for us daily, kept us going,” Nancy said.
In early 2019, Sam and the Webers had the privilege of reconnecting at Wycliffe USA’s Orlando headquarters just months after the completion of the Rapa Nui New Testament!
“It was special to meet Sam and his sister Kara, who is with Wycliffe in Orlando, and also their parents,” Nancy said.
Sam readily agreed. “Growing up as a missionary kid, I knew that a Bible translation project is a huge undertaking and takes a long time,” he said. “It was amazing to hold the Rapa Nui New Testament in my hands and to see living proof of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer.”
No matter your age, prayer is a vital part of your personal relationship with Jesus Christ and of any ministry done in his name. As Psalm 65:5a reminds us: “You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior” (NLT).