Caritina Gutierrez has never been to school, so she doesn’t understand much Spanish. But she takes great joy in communicating in Zapotec, her mother tongue.
Most mornings, after preparing for the day, this mother of seven opens the tall, red wooden doors of her brick-and-cement home in the Oaxacan village of San Blas Atempa in southern Mexico. She sits on the wall outside. Motorcabs, pedestrians, and vagrant dogs pass by. She watches, she smiles at people … and she prays.
Given the opportunity, she will share the gospel with those who stop to speak with her.
“Very frequently, when I come over, there is a lady sitting there crying with her,” says her son Rolando, who is also the pastor of a local church. “Many people come to my mother for counsel.”
Caritina carries a New Testament in Zapotec. “God speaks my language!” she says. “I can preach God’s Word, and everyone can understand right away.”
The best question to ask when evaluating Bible translation is always, How has mother tongue Scripture changed an individual or a language community? All God’s people desperately need his Word in the language that speaks to their hearts. He says so himself through the words of the prophet Isaiah:
The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. — Isaiah 55:10–11 (NLT)
Caritina’s favorite verse is John 15:7: “But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (NLT)
What has God given Caritina that she asked for? In a community where men are known for alcohol abuse, her husband and seven sons have all accepted Christ. And each of her sons married Christian women.
“I wanted to see all our family in front of a church worshiping God, and God did it,” she says. “He is bringing transformation in my community.”