In 1975, when Sam Anderson was just five years old, he decided to pray for the people of Easter Island to receive God’s Word. As it turned out, his connection with the Rapa Nui and the people called to serve them would span the next 45 years.
Sam’s parents, John and Joy Anderson, were Wycliffe missionaries serving in Nevada and working on the Northern Paiute New Testament translation.
“As kids we were given an allowance,” Sam recalls. “If we did chores around the house, we received a wage from Mom and Dad: a whopping 10 cents an hour,” he says, laughing.
Like his siblings, Sam placed a tithe of his earnings in an old metal tea box. The money would go toward supporting a Wycliffe translation project somewhere in the world. The children used a map on the wall to decide which people group they wanted to support.
Sam studied the map and was interested in Easter Island, 2,300 miles off the west coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean. He placed his pin on Easter Island and said he wanted to pray for and give toward the translation project there.
There was only one problem with Sam’s choice: there wasn’t a translation project on the island yet. Sam told his parents that he would pray for one to get started.
As Sam lifted up Easter Island, he was unaware of how God was working in the lives of Bob and Nancy Weber.
Halfway Around the World
Bob and Nancy Weber grew up in Peru and, like Sam, they were children of Wycliffe missionaries. The Webers had married around the time Sam began to pray for Easter Island and were asking God how he wanted to use them to further Bible translation.
Months later, Sam’s parents received a letter from a friend in SIL, Wycliffe’s key partner, who mentioned that Bob and Nancy were being assigned to a new project on Easter Island. The Webers were to first focus on strengthening the Rapa Nui language—which was facing possible extinction—and then on translating the New Testament into Rapa Nui.
Soon after they began their assignment, Bob and Nancy noticed Sam’s recurring gifts on their monthly financial statement from Wycliffe.
“We had no idea that he was just a child [at the time] or that he had started praying for us when he was a very small boy,” Nancy said. “So we wrote our thank‑you notes to a ‘Mr.’ Sam Anderson.”
The Webers discovered that Sam had begun praying for someone to start a translation for the people of Easter Island and had also sold stationery in order to have gifts to send to the Webers. So Bob and Nancy decided to write Sam a thank‑you letter. They told him when they had first been interested in Easter Island — just after he started praying in 1975!
“That really impacted me as a kid,” Sam recalled, “to be praying for something of that importance and then seeing God bring it to fruition.”
Face to Face
Over four decades of work on Easter Island, Bob and Nancy saw the Lord answer so many of their prayers, like taking care of their family, protecting the translation work in the face of opposition and providing funds to pay the local translators.
“Our clear call to the island and to the translation for the Rapa Nui, and the knowledge that many people were praying for us daily, kept us going,” Nancy said.
In early 2019, Sam and the Webers had the privilege of reconnecting at Wycliffe USA’s Orlando, Fla. headquarters just months after the completion of the Rapa Nui New Testament!
“It was special to meet Sam and his sister Kara, who is with Wycliffe in Orlando, and also their parents,” Nancy said.
Sam readily agreed. “Growing up as a missionary kid, I knew that a Bible translation project is a huge undertaking and takes a long time,” he said. “It was amazing to hold the Rapa Nui New Testament in my hands and to see living proof of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer.”
Adapted from a story by Richard Greene at wycliffe.org
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