Good news, Bad news

Good news, Bad news

Praise God, Pastor Hori’s grant application came through. He can now work full-time in Sign Language Bible translation, training to become a consultant in that field. Funds are coming from The Seed Company, SIL Asia Area, and ViBi (the Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project.) Pastor Hori is Deaf, and the ultimate scholar. He loves studying and teaching the Bible, digging into the Greek and Hebrew to make sure he understands it well.  I am looking forward to training him when I get back to Japan.

On the flip side, I just got a post from Pastor Minamida, our main translator. His arm/shoulder/neck pain is recurring. (Some of you may remember that back in 2007-2008 he was out for 6 months, and after that was only able to translate 2 to 4 hours a day for quite a while. Recently he has been working full days, but now it looks like we’ll need to cut back again.) This is a big set-back, but not a big surprise. What caught me totally off guard is that Ms. Yano, our assistant translator, is having similar symptoms. It looks like she will have to cut back on her translation work. Just when we thought we were getting ready to turn another corner and make serious progress, this happens.

Maybe it just came at a bad time for me, but there are times in this work where all you can do is weep.

How do you even think about this? Both of our translators sidelined? On the one hand, you could say we must be doing something right, because the opposition just keeps coming. No impact, no opposition, goes this theory. It’s nice, because it means that if we find a way to continue, something is going to happen , something that will spread abundant life and truth and freedom throughout the Deaf world of Japan and totally frustrate the evil designs of the enemy.  But how much and how long do we have to endure before we see that day?

On the other hand, you have to deal with the realities as they are presented. It is certainly not right to move the translation project forward with systems that ruin the health of the very people that are making it happen. We need to act responsibly.  What is behind this, and what improvements do we still need to make? More space would surely help. More workers to share the load? Different ways of doing the work?

“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us.” With the blind men in Matthew 20, we cry out. It’s not cool to yell and scream, but we are desperate. We know that You are the only one who can meet these needs.  So to the crowd we say “No, we’re not going to quietly sit back down into the life we have always known.”  And we cry out all the more loudly. What do we want? We want to be restored. Health for our bodies and souls. Kingdom-based sanity for our minds to live right-side-up in an upside-down world. Wisdom from above and faith to live it out. And ultimately, restoration to wholeness in Christ for the whole Deaf community of Japan. Please cry out with us.


About Mark and Mary Esther Penner

Mark works as an adviser and resource to a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project that plays a key role in the worldwide sign language Bible translation movement. Mary Esther founded a non-profit organization that partners with local communities and organizations to collect, refurbish and send wheelchairs throughout Asia.
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