For Victor and Shanta, the kingdom work of Bible translation has reshaped their view of home.
This post is from our “Legacy” series—a collection of inspiring stories from Seed Company’s past. While some content, facts, and stats may be outdated, the resounding impact of God’s Word endures.
When Victor* and Shanta* arrived in a rural village far from their home, the locals they met assumed they were wealthy. After all, their home state on the other side of the country offered low poverty rates and a high standard of living. But Victor and Shanta arrived with what amounted to less than $2 worth of cash. Victor used it to buy tea powder and sugar. For three days, they lived on black tea.
And in this new place, they found more oxcarts than cars. Many buildings were constructed of mud. Diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and typhoid plagued the community.
What in the world provoked Victor and Shanta to make this difficult move? Furthermore, what would motivate these newlyweds to stay?
The answer, of course, is the work God had prepared for them.
A Vague but Urgent Calling
Victor worked in Asia in the early 1990s. But despite his steady job, he sensed a call from God to pursue ministry. Victor didn’t know what that looked like or where it would take him, but he wanted to find out.
He traveled north to the region where his brother, Mark, had worked for 25 years as a missionary and Bible translator. Victor asked Mark about ministry and how to get started. Mark’s answer was simple:
“A servant of God must learn the Bible.”
Following Mark’s advice, Victor headed back south to study theology.
Soon after completing his coursework, he married Shanta. She also felt called to ministry but didn’t know where that path might lead. For a year, they prayed together for guidance from the Lord while serving faithfully in their local church.
Mark began telling them about the need for Bible translators in the village of Darakhan*, so Victor took a linguistics course as a first step. Upon meeting two Christians from that small and far away village, Victor and Shanta knew God had shed light on their next assignment, but not without steps in the dark that would stretch their faith.
God’s Faithfulness During Infertility
Victor and Shanta wanted children, but after trying for years, they began to feel this dream was an impossibility. Their family urged them to return home to seek treatment for their infertility. Though both felt certain God wanted them in Darakhan, they finally gave in to the pressure and returned home. But not without regret.
Victor felt that he was being unfaithful to the call God placed on his life. The couple continued in local church ministry but often worried about the people of Darakhan. To make matters worse, the fertility treatments weren’t helping.
“Finally, we came to the Lord,” Victor explained. They asked God to forgive them for leaving the post he had called them to and asked him to provide a child before sending them back to Darakhan.
“In the next year, God gave us Rose,” he joyfully reported.
After Rose turned 1, the family returned to the rural village with faith stronger than ever.
A Vague but Urgent Calling
Scattered throughout 55 villages, about a million people speak some dialect of Savias*. Victor facilitates the translations for the whole area. By utilizing local translators, Victor’s team soon had a first draft of the New Testament completed.
The team has also spearheaded translating the “JESUS” film into Savias. By lining a closet-sized room with old mattresses, Victor and Shanta turned their apartment into a makeshift studio where the film dub could be recorded.
When it was completed, Victor bought yards of fabric to make an 80-square-foot white tarp to screen the movie—the first the villagers had ever seen in their heart language. The response was enthusiastic among both Christians and non-Christians, and many more screenings were requested in the first three months.
The film awakened in the locals a hunger for knowledge about the Bible. With a literacy rate of around 5% and no literature written in Savias, Victor knew that completing a Savias Bible would encourage people to learn to read because they were already eager to learn more about God through his Word.
In the meantime, Victor and his team began work on Scripture products the people could immediately engage with: a podcast of Bible stories, worship songs, and biblical teachings recorded to SD cards.
A New Home
Despite difficulties and a lack of creature comforts, kingdom work sustained Victor, Shanta, and Rose.
When asked about their home state, and whether they ever felt the lure of that relative wealth, Victor said, “Home? Now whenever I go there, I feel restless. I just want to get back here soon. This is our place. This is our home now.”
*For security, pseudonyms are used for some names, locations, and languages.
Photos by Lincoln Brunner and Jim Killam