I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy …
That’s from the U.S. Army Ranger creed. Other branches of the military—American and worldwide—have long employed similar pledges. All originate with the Latin phrase nemo resideo, which means “Leave no one behind.”
Nemo resideo is foundational to military leadership courses. For anyone in combat, the ethic becomes instinctual. Selflessness represents the best in human nature and provides soldiers with confidence and hope. Whatever happens out there, they will not be forgotten.
Every Person Matters
Let’s consider that in an eternal context.
The story, “Now I Understand,” features a Southeast Asian language community of just 1,000 people, unknown to the outside world until 1991. By worldly standards, the Yef* people are insignificant—barely visible and of no great use to the rest of humanity. Most will spend their entire lives never traveling outside of their island jungle.
Yet they matter so much to God that he would have sent his Son to die for just one of them.
The Apostle Peter wrote:
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV, emphasis added)
“All” means everyone who ever lived and ever will live.
When Peter contrasts “all” with “any” (not a single one), he illuminates the heart of God. He wants no one left behind, but all to be restored to a right relationship with him.
Reaching the One, Counting Down to Zero
At Seed Company, we focus relentlessly on Zero … as in Zero languages still waiting for Bible translation to start.
Today, fewer than 1,700 languages remain. And while we still believe Bible translation can begin in every language in the next few years, we ultimately want to help the global church provide the entire Bible to all people, and to see transformed lives everywhere on earth. But Zero still represents a huge, historic benchmark.
To say we’ll target the major languages with the most speakers and reach most of the world’s people groups is a worthy goal. But it’s not enough. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of every nation, tribe, people, and language.
Does that include the Yef people and their unique language and culture?
How could it not?
Who would dare say that 1,000 people created in God’s image are not worthy of the gospel?
This conviction—“any and all”—drives us in the Bible translation movement.
Every people group, no matter how small, matters to God.
If a group of Christians wants to translate Scripture with them as an act of worship … would we deny that opportunity?
I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy. The ethos of a warrior applies to us all.
*For security reasons a pseudonym is used for the people group.