“They . . . are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10, NIV).

For those of us who have had understandable Scriptures in our heart language all our lives, God’s Word can unfortunately sometimes lose its sweetness. But for those just receiving the Bible in their heart language–like a language group near West Africa–the taste of the Word is honey-sweet.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Christmas was coming. On the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, the Cape Verdean translation team was hard at work translating the Gospel of Luke into their mother tongue: Kabuverdianu. When they completed the first two chapters, they gave a copy to their pastor to review.

The first Sunday in December came. The pastor began by asking the congregation to stand for the reading of God’s Word. This time, however, instead of opening the Bible in the official language, Portuguese, he opened his copy of the verses recently drafted into Kabuverdianu.

As the congregation listened intently, the pastor read the passage: the first seven verses of Luke 2. Pausing, he exclaimed, “It tastes so good, it tastes so good!” Then he started reading again. He didn’t stop until he’d finished the entire chapter, reading with confidence and expression, like someone who understood and valued every word.

In attendance, the translation team began to sob. A row of teenage girls stared at each other in wide-eyed wonder and then dissolved into a group hug. Eyes glistened with tears. The congregation erupted into a spontaneous cheer: “Amen! Hallelujah!” The service closed with many hugs for those who had worked on the translation.

After the service, a woman who was educated in Portuguese approached a member of the translation team. She explained that at first, she tried to follow along in her Portuguese Bible, but then she decided to close her eyes and just listen as the pastor read in her own language.

“I let the words fall over me,” she said. “For the first time in my life, I felt washed by the Word.

“I thought I knew the Christmas Story by heart, but I must confess that today I feel like I’ve heard it for the very first time.”