Zach Cann

Zach Cann

sent out by Grace Bible Church to plant churches among the Ndo people

The indefinite article in the title is intentional. This is a blog about how the translation of the book of Jonah points to the start of God’s Word being known among the nDo people. A sign of Jonah is that Cassidy and I are transitioning into the next stage of the work here in Mawerero. And for that we praise God’s mercy towards us and the people here.

Cassidy and I finished our formal study of the nDo language in May, thus bringing nearly 4 years of language learning (Melanesian Pidgin and nDo) to an end. Now we begin moving into three exciting phases of work—literacy, Bible translation, and Bible teaching. Cassidy and I have already prepared a large portion of the literacy program over the last two years. This summer, we will tie up loose ends and prepare to start the first class in August. At the same time, I am beginning to practice the translation process and to write Bible lessons.

There are a number of recommendations for where to start in Bible Translation. One of them is the Book of Jonah. Why? It’s short; it’s a chronological story; and it’s a good introduction to the power of God, the rebellion of people (from prophets to pagans), and the mercy God bestows upon all kinds of rebels.

Working with my translation helpers to make the translation of Jonah sound more fluid and clear in the nDo language.

Ryan Mitchell and some Ethnos 360 missionaries have helped me put together a translation procedure. As of June 6th, my language helpers and I completed a rough draft of all four chapters of Jonah. It is so exciting to see God’s Word begin to come into another language.

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Very rough draft of the first chapter of Jonah

Lord-willing, people will start learning to read this year. And shortly thereafter, we pray people will be able to read and hear the story of Jonah, see the God of Mercy depicted there, and come to understand the sign of Jonah.

The sign of Jonah was made clear by Jesus:

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:39-41)

The whole book of Jonah does indeed point to God’s great mercy for Jonah and Nineveh. And it is a condemnation of those who reject God’s offer of amnesty. Someone greater than Jonah has come—Jesus. We pray the people here will receive God’s love and mercy freely given through His son!

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