The Lord gave us, my wife, Margaret, and me, the responsibility and privilege of translating God’s Word into Pelawan (referred to commonly as Palawano), an ethnic minority language on the island of Palawan which borders the South China Sea in the southwestern Philippines. 2 Peter 1:3,4 states that “God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him”. Our knowledge of Him and His purposes come to us through His Word. No matter what the culture and people group, God’s Word is necessary and sufficient.
In the process of translating the Bible, the Lord encouraged me through a sad experience to persevere at all costs to see the whole Bible completed. Sua, the Pelawan chief of the village where we lived when we started the project, had invited us to live among them and learn the language. When we started with the linguistic analysis to determine their alphabet, he was a help and great support. Years later I had returned to Brooke’s Point from a trip and heard that Sua was in a small clinic in town and was very sick. I immediately went to visit him and he shared that he had prayed that we would see each other again. He was on oxygen and was struggling to breathe. I talked and prayed with him, looking forward to visiting the next day. His oldest son was at the clinic with him while we visited. Early the next morning I heard someone calling to me outside my home. It was Sua’s son. When I answered he said that his father had “gone ahead”. I asked when he had left to go to the village, surprised that it would be so early. His son clarified his statement by saying Sua had passed away that night – “gone ahead to heaven”. Sua’s body was taken back to the village that day. I went up to the mountains to visit the family and to see Sua’s body. I was asked to come into the bamboo hut and to enter his room. It was the simplest of rooms, woven cane walls and a split bamboo floor, and there was nothing in it but a small shelf near where his body lay wrapped in a sheet. On the shelf were a pair of glasses and half the New Testament which we had printed that included Genesis and Exodus. Sua was a well known Pelawan chief, a renown hunter (He had a collection of 200 wild boar tusks killed with just a spear and dogs.), a man respected and sought out by elected government officials, but his most prized possession was God’s Word in his language. At that moment I was speechless, impressed with how much value this great man placed on God’s Word which was only partially completed at that time.
Each time I struggled, whether because of the enemy’s attacks or the immensity of the task (approximately 750,000 words in the Bible) that memory of Sua and his Bible was imbedded in my mind and heart. It was a blessing that Sua’s granddaughter, Glossy, who co-translated with me has reaped the blessing of knowing how much her grandfather valued having God’s Word for his people.
Craig was born in the Philippines to missionary parents. He came to the States to finish high school and college. After marrying Margaret they were commended by Asheville Gospel Chapel in 1972 to the Lord’s work in the Philippines. They have completed the translation of the whole Bible in Palawano, the ethnic minority language.
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