What sounds like good news is a confusing statement for most of the people group where Erwin, Rita and family serve in Paraguay. Your sins are forgiven! (Mt 9:2) How can it be that my sins are forgiven (in the language means something like “they were made to go away”) and I still continue to sin? This confusion has been evident for years, only recently has one of the Bible translator helpers been able to clarify it further. The problem is the verb or the meaning of it in connection with sin.
At a youth meeting where Erwin and Rita’s co-worker was asked to preach the Gospel, he asked everyone present, ‘Who among you sins sometimes?’ No hands were raised. Not because they did not dare, but because they really think that once you have become a “Christian” and especially after baptism, you do not sin anymore. That is what they were taught in the past, or that is what they understood. Therefore, their co-worker raised his hand and gave some examples where he sometimes sins in everyday life.
It is so important to study the language and its culture intensively and to spend time with people to understand what certain words mean and how they were used in the past; that is why the Bible revision is so important. God’s Word must communicate clearly and understandably.
Erwin and Rita’s main task is still language and culture study. One of their responsibilities after finishing that task will be to help finish the translation/revision of the Bible.
For Erwin and Rita, it is one of the hardest things they have had to do in their lives so far, not only the work itself, but also the whole way in which they work and live, the expectations and ideas of people and of their home country Germany and much more, including their own family life etc.
Nevertheless, “since God in His mercy has given us this ministry, we never give up” 2 Cor 4:1. The whole section is very encouraging. It is God’s work and God “never abandoned us” (v9)
God’s work among this people group is far from finished. A specific prayer request is that God puts it on the heart of more people to be a part of the work. Through discipleship, i.e. actively being involved in their everyday life, and teaching from the Word of God in their language, the Holy Spirit can change hearts. Knowing their language and customs is vitally important. That is why Erwin and Rita are in Paraguay, doing what they do…
So how is the issue of forgiveness of sins handled now? Did Jesus really cause our sins to be no more? Sin will be part of us to the end of our life, but from the moment we are God’s children, the penalty for sin is paid, including our future sin. When the translation helper understood that, everything suddenly made sense to him. His response “Everyone needs to hear that. Now I understand what it means, my sins are forgiven!”
Thank you for your prayers!