As soon as portions of Scripture arrive within a community, life transformation begins.
Along steep river banks in Southeast Asia, the Mele* people’s houses are carved into the slopes. Their agrarian culture is unique, with its own traditional costumes, songs, instruments, and dances.
The people often say they live under a curse, and if they don’t do something evil every three years, they’ll die. Because of this belief, surrounding language groups fear the Mele, and the Mele are suspicious of each other.
“I received Christ because there was no way of peace among my animist people. I found only God can give me real peace and joy.” – Mele man
About 97 percent of the Mele people are either animists or atheists. Alcohol and drug abuse run high. The animists fear the spirit world, and they spend a lot of money and livestock on appeasing spirits. About three percent are Christians. But the church hasn’t grown or matured much, because the people lack Scriptures they can understand. One Mele man who heard the gospel even thought Mele people couldn’t become Christians because their language isn’t written.
When the very first portions of Scripture reach a community, impact starts and lives transform.
Translation work for the Mele started with a set of oral Bible stories. Next comes the gospel of Mark in print and audio, and then drafting the book of Acts. The first Mele-language Scriptures are useful, not only for personal growth but also in church life, evangelism, and discipleship. One great hope is that people who come to Christ will no longer fear the spirits.