Being it’s October, it seems only fitting that we take a moment to reflect a little on the life and death of a prominent man in Christian History, William Tyndale.
In the 1500s England was in a dismal state spiritually. The church services were performed only in Latin, and the uneducated laypeople who did not speak Latin had no access or understanding of God’s Word. They would go to church seeking, but not knowing or understanding the Word’s being spoken to them of God’s gospel message. They were told that their lay indulgences and monetary tithes to the church would buy them entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Enter William Tyndale…
William Tyndale was a priest who spoke 7 different languages. His skill and intellect would have taken him a long way within the church of England. However, his one true passion was to teach the people of England and help them understand justification by grace through faith.
Unfortunately, the bishops and those presiding over him did not catch his vision and his request to translate the Bible into English was denied vehemently. Tyndale then felt he had no choice but to travel to more friendly places such as Hamburg, Wittenberg, and Cologne, where he began the tedious work of translating the Word of God into English.
Tyndale’s mentor was Erasmus, and he was widely known for quoting his mentor: “Christ desires his mysteries to be published abroad as widely as possible. I would that [the Gospels and the epistles of Paul] were translated into all languages, of all Christian people, and that they might be read and known.”
In 1525 the very first New Testament was translated from Greek into English. This life changing New Testament was quickly smuggled into England, where it received a less than enthusiastic review from the King of England and other authorities. The authorities were so enraged by the appearance of this English Bible that they began buying up every copy possible and put a price on Tyndale’s head. In 1535 Tyndale was betrayed by a man named Henry Phillips who had been a guest in his home many times. Phillips turned him over to the authorities.
In August of 1536 Tyndale was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to be burned at the stake. On Friday, October 6th with many officials as spectators, Tyndale was led to a cross in the middle of the town square and given a chance to recant his heretical views. Instead of recanting he was given a moment to pray. Instead of praying for himself, Tyndale was recorded crying out saying: “Lord open the King of England’s eyes!”
Then he was bound to the beam of the cross and an iron chain and rope were placed around his neck. Gunpowder was added to the brush and logs. At the signal of the executioner a lighted torch set the wood ablaze and William Tyndale paid the ultimate price so that English speakers could have the word of God in their heart language.
Last week on the anniversary of Tyndale’s death it gave me a moment of pause as I reflected on how very different our lives would be if we hadn’t had the Bible in English these past 500 or so years. Imagine pastors trying to minister to a church without the word of God. Picture how the story and the gospel would have slowly been eroded and distorted without access to God’s words. Imagine how many English speakers would be lost for eternity, having never heard the gospel message. Thankfully, God in his sovereign plan, allowed English speakers to be reached with the Word of God in 1525 through William Tyndale.
Today, we have over 100 translations of the entire Bible in English. Can I tell you how blessed we are? And we can thank William Tyndale, who gave his life that you may find yours eternally.
1.5 billion around the world are not so blessed. Even with access to the internet and modern technology that is how many still do not have access to God’s Word in a language they understand.
In Papua New Guinea there are 800 languages. Each language represents hundreds and thousands of people. Of those languages only 200 or so have any portion of Scripture translated.
Would you be willing to give the gift of God’s Word to the people in Papua New Guinea?
If William Tyndale had not obeyed the Lord so many years ago, where would you be today? Would you be one of the 1.5 billion who have never had access to God’s Word?
We have been called to serve the Papua New Guineans and to be a tool in bringing them the Word of God in their heart language. Through Wojtek’s skills as a pilot, he makes Bible Translation possible in such a remote country. Jen’s skills as an RN will be used to forge relationships with locals, and to keep the translators and their families healthy and unable to continue their work. It takes a village of missionaries to deliver the Word of God to each tribe, tongue, and Nation in PNG.
Will you join us? We are at 51% of the budget Wycliffe has set for us. More than half way there! But we just found out that we can still attend the required pre-field orientation this Spring if we hit the 80% mark by January! We can’t leave for Papua New Guinea until we hit 100% of the monthly budget that Wycliffe has set for us, but at least if we can get to the 80% mark by January we can get the ball rolling and we will reach our goal of leaving in 2020!! If you’re feeling led we would absolutely love to have you as part of our team of financial partners. If you value the Word of God in your own lives, be a part of changing the life of a brother or sister in PNG.