In the United States, racism has left deep wounds, producing cycles of hatred and violence. Nevertheless, Jesus’ blood speaks a better word—not only in the United States, but among all nations (Hebrews 12:24). The Scriptures are filled with examples of God using people from unexpected cultural backgrounds to glorify his name.
As we pause to reflect on how far we have come in healing racial divides and how much further we have to go, we are encouraged by the ways God’s Word is reconciling people all over the world. Mercy is triumphing over revenge. Love is rooting out hatred and bitterness. God’s heart beats for the nations like a steady drum resonating through the ages; he longs to reconcile all of us to himself and to one another.
Our goal at Seed Company is to see the Bible translated into the heart languages of every people group. Time and time again, we are astonished by the power of God’s Word to break down barriers and unite people who seemed irreconcilable. Here are three such stories.
Two People Groups in Democratic Republic of Congo Find Peace
“The Lord delivered me. I totally forgave. I greet them when we meet, and I have no hatred against them.” — an Iyeki oral Bible storyteller
In Democratic Republic of Congo, the indigenous Iyeki people had clashed with Bantu Imoma people for years over land. Historically, the Iyeki people were marginalized, while the Bantu Imoma people occupied a more socially powerful position in the area. During one particularly severe conflict, many Iyeki people died. Several of their villages burned to the ground, causing them to flee into the forest.
But when the Iyeki learned the oral Bible story of Cain and Abel, they shed tears and decided to forgive their Bantu neighbors. Instead of continuing the cycle of violence, they spread the message of reconciliation and forgiveness throughout the Iyeki community.
Even though the Bantu had all the social and economic advantages, they were moved to welcome the Iyeki call for reconciliation. And the Iyeki found glorious freedom in forgiving their persecutors. Since then, the Bantu have joined the same cluster project as the Iyeki and begun learning to tell Bible stories in their language, while the Iyeki have planted two new churches!
Today, reconciliation runs so deep in their hearts that translators from these two groups are working alongside one another at Oral Bible Storytelling workshops—including an Iyeki storyteller whose son was killed and a Bantu storyteller who provided ammunition to the killer.
“I had decided to avenge my son,” the Iyeki storyteller remembers. “But then the Lord delivered me. I totally forgave. I greet them when we meet, and I have no hatred against them.”
An Ethiopian Translator Chooses to Wait on God
“I will not compensate myself this way, but God will have his own way to compensate me.” — an Arbore Bible translator
The Arbore people of Ethiopia have long had tense relations with the neighboring Hamer tribe. Scarce water and limited grazing land often lead to conflict between these people groups, especially in times of drought.
When a group of Hamer people sneaked into an Arbore village one night, they stole nearly a dozen cattle from Bible translator Ello. Ello mounted his motorbike and tried to track the thieves, but when the trail led across the river and deep into Hamer territory, he realized the cattle were gone for good.
Sadly, a small band of young Arbore men took revenge. They attacked a Hamer shepherd, killing the man and stealing all his goats as compensation for those who’d lost cattle. However, what happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
The goat thieves tried to offer 200 goats to Ello, but he chose to acknowledge God and trust his timing. “I will not compensate myself this way, but God will have his own way to compensate me. It is better for me to wait for God than take these goats, which are forcefully taken from Hamer people.”
The rest of the Arbore were taken aback, and Ello’s response became the talk of the village. Ello explained to them, “I am a minister in the church, doing Bible translation for these people, so how can I take these goats and tell them about God’s love and mercy? I don’t want my life to be a hindrance for others.”
A Nigerian Mother Forgives Her Husband’s Murderer
Motherhood is a difficult yet worthy calling. And the task grows much more difficult when it must be undertaken alone.
In Nigeria, one woman became a single mother after a clash with nearby herdsmen took her husband’s life. She was understandably filled with rage toward those who killed her partner, but God gently reached into her pain to lift her out.
After listening to an audio recording of Mark’s Gospel in her language of Bachama, she asked God for help releasing the hatred in her heart. Today, after forgiving those who murdered her husband, she advocates for others to know God’s Word. She tells others that Jesus is the only one who can turn even the worst enemies into friends.
The Power to Change
As people receive God’s Word in their own languages, barriers are broken down. Through Scripture, God empowers the marginalized and gives a voice to the voiceless. He transforms not only individual lives, but whole communities and, indeed, entire cultures.
We honor the stories of terrible pain and loss that too many people like the Iyeki tribe, the Ethiopian translator, and the Nigerian mother have experienced. At the same time, we rejoice over the reconciliation, forgiveness, and transformation that God’s Word is bringing to communities all over the world.
What is the Lord saying to you through these stories? Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive or reconcile with? Let’s pause to invite the Holy Spirit to speak, as he teaches us what it means to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.