The Tribal Bible

Several years ago a friend, who is a Bible printer in Wisconsin, put together an unusual “Bible” that he called “The Tribal Bible.” It consists of  a cover and blank pages. The purpose of this wordless book is to illustrate the fact that no one has translated God’s Word into nearly 4,000 languages. In many churches I have set this Tribal Bible on my missionary display table. Almost always, when people look at it, their immediate reaction is to laugh.  Then I ask them, “What if that were your Bible?  It wouldn’t be so funny, would it?” At that point they usually get serious and say, “No, I guess I wouldn’t want a ‘Bible’ with no words.”

I recently had a new experience with my Tribal Bible. While at a missions conference at Ambassador Baptist College in North Carolina, a young female student picked up the wordless “Bible.” She looked it over for a few seconds, and then put her head on her brother’s shoulder and wept! I wasn’t ready for that!  Later, the missions teacher told the students that they needed to stop by my display and look at the Tribal Bible. He didn’t tell them any more; they didn’t know what to expect.  During the next couple of days, many other students picked up the Tribal Bible and stared at its blank pages. Although no one else wept openly, without exception, they were very sad and serious. I asked several of them, “Don’t you think someone should go and put some words on these pages?” Pray earnestly with me that some of these young people would make the great sacrifice to do just that. If the task of translating God’s Word into all the world’s languages were easy, someone would already have done it. Psalm 119:130 says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light;” and there’s an enemy who wants to keep people in darkness.

Have you ever thanked God that you have a Book with His words on its pages? Most language groups, if they have any Scripture, only have portions or the New Testament at best.  Relatively few languages actually have what we have, a complete, perfect Bible. How much do you love that Book? Could you go to one of these language groups and dedicate 15 or 20 years and put God’s words on the blank pages? You might as well know that these people don’t live in nice places. They are usually in the jungle, the desert, the mountains, or some other inhospitable place. They sometimes live under repressive Muslim or communist governments. If you can’t go, would you pray that someone would?  While you are praying, perhaps you could give to help support a ministry that is trying to reduce the number of language groups that are condemned to share this wordless, worthless Tribal Bible.

This article is respectfully dedicated to Jim who designed the Tribal Bible and to April who wept over it.