“I was standing in front of the throne of God, and God unrolled something like a scroll and his finger was writing on it. Then God gave this scroll to me. He said to me, ‘You have to go. This is an important message you have to deliver.’”
This vision marked the start of a remarkable journey which led Lilly Simon to produce a children’s Bible in her language of Kalderash Romani.
Lilly grew up in Germany in a Christian family. They had Scripture in German, but not in their own language. Lilly had a deep desire to hear God speak to her heart.
Lilly opted to study theology and, against all the norms in her community, became a pastor.
She had started reading an English children’s Bible to her nieces and nephews, translating as she went. She began to wonder: Why not have the Bible in her own language?
Then Lilly had the vision about receiving the scroll. This convinced Lilly of her specific calling. “People told me I was crazy,” said Lilly. “But if it is a God thing, he will provide everything.”
In early 2014, Lilly went to Mission-Net, a conference to equip Christian young adults across Europe. Lilly browsed the displays set up by various ministries. She asked the Lord, “To whom should I talk? Where should I go?”
She spotted an exhibition with pictures on the wall. They were drawings for children. “These are the pictures for my children’s Bible!” Lilly thought.
As she explained her vision for a children’s Bible, the woman at the stand began to weep. Before Lilly had arrived, all 3,000 conference attendees had prayed that God would provide more Bible translators for the Roma.
Lilly was ushered to the Wycliffe booth, where she met Angelika Marsch, the then director of Wycliffe Germany. There were tears of joy and heartfelt discussions. Lilly came away with a plan to begin translation.
With help from others experienced in Roma Bible translation, Lilly and her team translated 122 Bible stories into Kalderash Romani.
In December 2015, 6,400 children’s Bibles were printed. At the next Mission-Net conference, the children’s Bible was dedicated — and 450 copies were distributed to missionaries from across Europe. Children and adults loved it. Church leaders asked for copies. Lilly began to hear stories of the book transforming people’s lives.
Lilly hopes to see the Bibles distributed in the U.K., Chile and Russia, which have large Roma communities. She also desires to do more audio recordings. 30 stories have already been produced on a CD accompanying the children’s Bible, since many Roma prefer oral communication.
Lilly says, “As long as we have time, we must use the opportunities God has given us. We don’t know how things will develop or whether borders will close. As long as we can act, we must.”