Feeding the Spiritually Impoverished

posted by Greg Pruett on April 30, 2013

When I lived in West Africa, we would feed our family homemade pizza while famished village children stared through the screen door, watching every bite. The kids next door would catch and roast mice; my children would fuss about eating their vegetables.

As I wept before God in prayer, searching for a Christian response to the needs around me, He made it clear that I could not just keep consuming a buffet of His riches. So we planted thousands of fruit trees that will feed hungry children for generations. Doing something that could truly solve the problem felt right.

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Another kind of hunger bothers me today—maybe you haven’t seen it yet. Have you noticed the 209 million Scriptureless people craving spiritual food just outside our all-you-can-eat Scripture buffet? Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Two thousand years after He spoke these words, 1,967 of the world’s 6,900 languages still wait for Scripture translation to begin, and 1,174 of the world’s languages have no Church.

About 200 million people in 900 language groups have no spiritual resources—neither Church nor Scripture. They suffer from both kinds of spiritual poverty and, not coincidentally, are also among the most physically impoverished peoples of the world.

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Where would you find hope if you were born among these people? What greater need could kindle the compassion of Jesus? God invites all of us to invest our lives in satisfying the spiritual and physical hunger that is rampant in our world! It’s time to lift our eyes above the buffet and see the world in need just outside the window.

Pioneer Bible Translators believes God is challenging this generation to accomplish the goal of seeing churches with Scripture transforming every language group on earth by the year 2050. After thousands of years advancing His Kingdom, God has placed this major milestone within our reach. If the Bible translation movement continues to gain momentum as we have over the last 30 years, then over the next two decades we and our partner Bible agencies will begin every translation project needed on earth. Within 40 years, we could live in a world where every language that needs it will have a published New Testament.

But for this vision to be fulfilled, every person on earth—including the Churchless and the Scriptureless—must be invited to the buffet. Our unique role is to pioneer areas of complete spiritual poverty, empowering God’s people to cross every language barrier with both Church and Scripture.

Just as the Lord showed me how to help starving children in the village, I believe He has shown our team how to meet the needs of the Churchless and Scriptureless language groups of the world. We know where they are and how to prayerfully mobilize, train, and send the missionaries needed. Now we just need the resources to move our team into position to do the job. Helping those starving children in the village just felt right because I knew I was pleasing Jesus. This is an opportunity to please Jesus on a much wider scale.

We look forward to linking arms with Christians everywhere to help teach the most spiritually and physically impoverished people on earth how to follow Jesus and live out the values of His Kingdom! The next generation of missionaries could leave behind them a world in which churches with Scripture are transforming every language group on earth.

Greg Pruett

Greg has served as President of Pioneer Bible Translators since 2007. He, his wife Rebecca, and their three children served in West Africa for more than twelve years, completing the Bible in the Yalunka language. He has a degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M, and a Masters and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He also has linguistic training from the University of North Dakota and the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics.

twitter: @GregJPruett

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