Dedicated in the Face of Difficulties

The day that a translation of the Scripture is dedicated is a day of joy. In spite of delays and difficulties, the recent dedication of the revised Matu Chin New Testament in Southeast Asia was no exception. Bibles International (BI) dedicated the original Matu Chin New Testament (NT) in 1998. BI began a revision in 2005 in order to make the language of the NT better reflect the dialect accepted by the Matu Chin community as a whole. A variety of factors made the Matu Chin NT revision a project of many years, but thanks in large part to the dedication of Dr. H., the translator during the final years of the revision, the text was completed in 2021. Political unrest in the country led to further delays, but the New Testaments finally arrived at the regional Bibles International affiliate office late in 2022. The original hope was that the New Testament could be dedicated in the area where the majority of the Matu Chin speakers live. However, that was not to be. As the translator explained, "Because of political turmoil and civil war, it is impossible to travel to our home area at this time. Thousands of the people have fled. Many villages have been desolated." Due to these problems, the dedication was held in a major city instead, at a large Matu Chin Baptist church.

So it was on April 1, fewer than 100 people, including pastors from many area churches, gathered for a low-key but joyful dedication. Dr. T.M., the director of the regional BI affiliate, shared about the work of BI and the history of the Matu Chin translation. BI Asia Coordinator Dr. Sana S. unveiled the New Testaments from their wrapping of traditional Matu Chin cloth and offered a dedicatory prayer, asking that God would bless this translation. He presented the first copies to Dr. H. and the representatives of the Baptist church associations among the Matu Chin people. A youth choir sang "Wonderful Words of Life" in Matu Chin. With Dr. H. interpreting, Joe V., BI's Projects Manager, preached on 2 Thessalonians 3:1: "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you." After a local pastor closed the meeting in prayer, everyone enjoyed a lunch prepared by the translator's wife. At the close of the dedication, Matu Chin speakers were able to purchase copies of the revised New Testament. Several pastors commented that the appearance of the New Testament was excellent; they appreciated the inclusion of such "add-ons" as cross-references and footnotes, as well as the size and format of the New Testament.

As one of the consultants who worked on the Matu Chin revision, it brings me great joy to know that this Scripture is now in the hands of Matu Chin believers. Let us pray that through this revised New Testament God's Word will indeed "have free course and be glorified," that it can reach the Matu Chin community outside the cities, including those displaced by unrest, and that it would have a great impact on the lives of readers, pastors, and churches.