‘The mango tree there, my father planted it long ago. But now we are reaping the fruit. We are eating from that tree.’
Sunday Wenji is a Nigerian Bible translator. The tree he is talking about, pictured above and below, towers over the houses around it, its verdant branches carrying such armfuls of leaves that the trunk is scarcely visible. It has now grown large enough for the community to hold meetings in its shade.
Bible translation is a bit like this tree, Sunday explains: ‘If you plant a tree, it started small. It grows and grows and becomes a big tree. So also translation work takes a long time like that. But now the work has – you know – become a very big tree.’
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Cor 3:7–9)
The Bible is full of references to plants, gardening and farming. Jesus often used seeds and planting as metaphors for matters of faith: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…’ (Matt 13:31); ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field…’ (Matt 13:24); and ‘if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…’ (Matt 17:20). Perhaps the best-known example is the parable of the sower.
…the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matt 13:23)
‘The legacy and inheritance I’m leaving for my children,’ Sunday continues, ‘is the Bible. So I’m planting Bible translation.’
As you enjoy God’s creation over the next week, appreciating the spring flowers, perhaps tending your own garden, maybe even planting seeds from your recent letter from Wycliffe, consider how God wants you to grow, too. Ask him to show you your place in his mission, and what seeds he wants you to plant and water.
Watch Sunday talking about planting Bible translation:
If you would like to join us in planting and watering Bible translation seeds by giving to the work of Wycliffe, you can do so by following the link below.