The World Bible Translation Day enters its 50th year of existence ever since the US Congress established it on September 30,1966, as a permanent day of the year to honor Bible translations. This day was chosen,as it is the feast of St. Jerome,the patron saint of Bible translators. He pioneered the first major Bible translation of the world,translating the Word of God from Hebrew to Latin to make what is called the ‘Latin Vulgate’. There are many to be remembered on this auspicious day, including John Wycliffe,who translated the whole Bible into English from the Latin Vulgate and William Tyndale,who was burnt at stake for having translated and published the Word of God into English from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. His last words as he was being burnt at stake,“O Lord open the eyes of the King of England,”opened the door of Heaven and decades later the king of England himself brought out the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible,which has by far the greatest number of printed books in the world till date. After the martyrdom of William Tyndale, thousands were persecuted and shed their blood,including his disciple and associate,Mathew Rogers,who was also burnt at the stake in front of his wife and eleven children for helping to complete the English translation of the Bible which Tyndale left unfinished. Ironically,a prominent Christian church was behind these outrageous and cruel persecutions against all these Bible translators. These martyrs remain unsung heroes and are seldom remembered by the present day churches. The unfading crowns of these martyrs in heaven can be seen by the so called Christian leaders only when they leave their abode on earth.
It is estimated that there are about 6,819 spoken languages in the world,of which more than 2,700 are yet to have even a verse printed. In this grand total,India has around 447 living languages of which 29 languages have more than one million speakers. According to unofficial estimates, the Word of God has yet to reach more than 375 languages in India .
Ironically,the established Churches of different language groups are neither bothered about their outdated Bible translations nor about the language groups who do not have even a single verse of the Bible in their language. The wealthy Christian churches and Bible making societies are more focused on beautiful buildings,business and educational establishments than to give the Word of God to millions of poor brethren in different language groups. In my personal experience,they neither pioneer the translation of the Word nor do they encourage people who struggle to get the Word to other language groups.
My bitter experience is that Satan used Christian leaders to try and crush my translation of the Modern Malayalam version of the Bible –Vishudha Satya Vedapusthakam. My wife and I both lost our jobs abroad …my children…their education. They tried to keep this Bible out of the Christian bookshops in Kerala. In spite of all the ridicule and discouragement,the Almighty God has carried the Vishudha Satya Vedapusthakam to the hands of hundreds of thousands across the world. Though no awards,rewards or appreciation came from the so-called overseers of God on earth,my testimony on this sacred day of prayer is that,He never let me down and lifted me further up to present His Word to the Paniya,Jennukuruba and Banjara language groups,making the Word of God,the first piece of literature ever presented and printed in their language,since their existence on earth. God enabled me to pioneer the translation of the Bible into the Telugu language,which is the second largest language group in India. And above all,the Lord blessed me to present the Christian Walk Bible,the first ever Study Bible in any language in the world on Fasting Prayer.
Bible Translations presented by Bro. Dr. Mathews Vergis
God made all these possible without any aid from any Church or Bible making societies,but just by the earnest efforts of my brethren in my fasting prayer ministry across the world,who fast and pray in unison crushing the barriers of churches or congregations,under the banner of “WORD TO WORLD”.
I place my humble prayers at the feet of my Heavenly Father beseeching blessings for all those who have shed their blood and laid down their lives for the translation of Word of God and for everyone engaged even at this very moment in translating the Word to the untouched languages,to carry the Good News to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Praise the Lord!
Ever since I heard the call of the Almighty God and started the Inter Denominational Christian Fellowship Foreign units (now the Inter denominational Christian Fellowship International),the Lord burdened me with promoting and propagating His Word beyond the borders of nations and languages. It seemed a mighty unattainable task,for someone who had not even a Sunday school education. I did not know where or how to begin. I knew that if I took the first step in obeying His command,He would hold my Hands and lead me on. The first thing I realized,was that many who claimed to be led by the Spirit of God had no real intimate or intrinsic relationship with the Word of God. For many Bible reading had reduced to simply a “Sermon Reading” experience (reading only for references while hearing sermons).
Thus I started the “Brother’s Bible Lovers League” to encourage our members to read the Bible daily. Monthly Bible reading programs were initiated along with Quizzes,and other Biblical competitions to enhance Bible study. Bible Exhibitions named “Biblex” were held annually for promotion of the Word of God beyond the parameters of our Fellowship. I remember Rev. Dennis Gurney (now Sir Dennis Gurney) whose guidance,help and prayers brought thousands to the “Biblex” –the first such event of its kind in the Middle East.
Over the course of my ministry after nearly 14 years of study,I could no longer turn a blind eye to the outdated 100 year old Malayalam Bible translation which was in dire need of correction. After the Bible Society authorities turned me away,refusing even to look at the corrections I had noted through years of study,I was forced to take up the task myself. I am always thankful to such authorities because ultimately it was their insult and inaction that paved the way for me to get the most blessed command from the Almighty God to translate and publish His Word. He bestowed upon me numerous Gifts and Graces for translating His Word into different languages,but additionally warned that I will have to face storms,tempests and fiery trials to be victorious. But He also promised “I will be with you and never let you down.” The “Vishudha Satyavedapusthakam”,the translation of the Bible in the modern Malayalam language was published on 22nd December,2000.
I had taken three 40 day fasts to overcome the obstacles Satan had created –including adverse health conditions that even baffled doctors. But the worst was yet to come. Soon after the release of the Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakam, I was forced to leave the country of my residence for nearly 25 years. My erstwhile spiritual brethren were behind it. My Bible translation research work of two decades were destroyed by their actions. My wife and I both lost our jobs. Our children’s education was disrupted. Not a word of consolation,comfort or encouragement came from any quarter – people led by Holy Spirit or otherwise. Tabloids filled with lies from the enemy were read and quoted even in Churches. They were rejoicing that the new Bible was destroyed.
No! Never! My God never let me down! The Vishudha Satyavedapustakam was revised and reprinted with an additional feature –Subtitle Index,which no other translation of the Bible in Indian languages had. There was no looking back!. Today hundreds of thousands across the globe have made Vishudha Satyavedapustakam a part of their spiritual lives. From there,the Lord blessed me with one Bible translation after the other,enabling me to scale new peaks that were beyond my imagination!!
Over the past one and half decades the Lord helped me to present the New Testament to the Paniya Tribe which has population of only about a hundred and fifteen thousand in the Paniya language and the Gospel of Mark to the Jennu Kurumba tribe which has a population of around sixty thousand in the Jennu Kurumba language. These Bibles were given free to these ethnic tribes. Above all,the Lord enabled me to present the “Christian Walk Bible”,the first ever study Bible on Fasting Prayer in English to all the English speaking people on earth. Besides “Bibles for Bibleless” and “Scripture Sharing Students” ministries were started to give Bibles free for those who could not afford to have a Bible of their own.
The Lord who called me,continues to lead me on. All this was made possible by the Almighty God because I never gave up my pursuit in spite of the fiery trials and tribulations created by Satan at every phase of the Bible translations. My actions for the Almighty God were not limited to mere words bound by inactivity . Satan cannot be silent as Word of God will destroy him because “the Word of God is like a fire and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces”(Jeremiah 23:29). So he will be constantly using all possible means to create dissensions and divisions,envy and enmity to isolate us and deter us from our goals for the promotion and propagation of the Word of God.
Sometimes he will use Christians themselves for his purpose. William Tyndale and Mathew Rogers were burnt at stake by the forceful instigation of the then powerful Christian Church because these poor men had no endorsement of that church. People were banned from reading the new translation by Tyndale. Thousands of Bibles were burnt publicly and tens of thousands of people were tortured and put in jails for reading and distributing the Bible. But no king or church could destroy the Word of God translated by these martyrs. God used it to pass on through generations and millions and millions read it even today.
It is my prayer these words would inspire to go forward. God will lead your battle and guide you to victory.
When I planned our trip to attend a seminar in Indonesia,little did I expect that the Lord was going to give me a new vision about the building of His Kingdom. Very little is known in the outside world about Indonesia or about the Christian Churches in Indonesia. It was a rare and rich experience to be a part of the prayers for the “Global Harvest”at the Indonesian Christian Church during our recent visit to Jakarta.
Indonesia is a unique country comprising several islands and has approximately 726 languages. I have yet to come across another nation in my travels which has these many languages. It is also one of the poorer countries of the world which I have visited. The Indonesians appear to be simple and honest people. On the three hour train ride to Ciberon,I found the countryside to be as poor as in North India and modernization had not crept in. The train journey was indeed a pleasant one with A/C coaches and reclining seats and the cleanliness maintained was remarkable as compared to my experiences in India.
Christianity is the second biggest religion in Indonesia which is around 10% of the population. The unique feature of Christianity in Indonesia is that Protestantism and Catholicism are considered as two different religions and are included among the six religions of Indonesia recognized by the government. Of the 23.5 million Christians,7% account for the Protestants which number about 16.5 million and the remaining 3% are Catholics numbering about 7 million. There is no curtailment or restriction on worship though new churches are rare.
“Alkitab”is the name of the first Bible translation in Indonesian language. It has now been replaced by the TERJEMAHAN BARU,meaning the New Translation which is the most popular of the 22 available translations of the Bible.
What was amazing to me was that,of the 726 languages,some portions of the Bible or the whole Bible has been translated into about 100 languages. This is indeed remarkable considering the meager resources for the Christians of Indonesia.
My seminar at the “Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia”,which is the equivalent of the Indonesian Bible Society was very fruitful. The well organized Bible Museum at the headquarters is indeed praiseworthy. It really gave me a new dimension to my dreams,of setting up a Bible Museum.
Though I have been leading fasting prayers in many nations across the globe,I must admit that I have not prayed for a rich Global Harvest for the Lord. The Holy Spirit led me to a new vision about the Global Harvest,at the worship of the Indonesia Christian Congregation in their prayer for a rich Global Harvest holding artificial golden stalks and ears of wheat in their hands. Though a small minority with little knowledge of the Christian activities on earth,their earnest and honest prayers touched me. Their purpose driven prayers were illuminated by the golden stalks and ears they held in their hands.
The prayers of these small groups of Indonesian Christians to reap a rich Global Harvest for our Lord should ignite our prayers too,for a great Harvest on earth for our Lord as we approach the end times.
Today many modern Christian groups question the necessity of fasting prayers in their spiritual walk. For many such, their anointing of the Holy Spirit is only the ecstasy experienced in their praise and worship sessions, lasting a couple of hours or more. Many are not concerned about their time before and after such sessions. The phenomena of the anointing of the Holy Spirit is not merely a short worship session experience but a continuous 24/7 presence. Those who are anointed and led by the Holy Spirit should always be aware that Satan is at their heels to destroy their anointing. He hates them as they are away from him,and lead others away from him too! So he wants to destroy the anointed people of God. That is why Peter warns us to be vigilant,“because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion,seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Jesus forewarned his followers about the adversary Satan and gave them a mighty weapon to defeat him – “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) He proved that by his own life, defeating Satan by fasting and prayer. Thus Jesus established fasting prayer as the divine weapon for the children of God, to defeat Satan, in their spiritual walk.
We have stepped into the dawn of the New Year with new dreams,renewed hope and aspirations of prosperity. However,many of us fail to think on how to fulfil these in the days ahead. They would have reached this New Year without achieving or attaining any previous dreams though they had the very same thought process for ‘New Years’ in the past. Why? Why?
Their dreams,hopes and aspirations couldn’t bloom and bear fruit because they could not bring about the CHANGES in their lives which were required for attaining these goals. Only when changes – changes for the better –are brought about in our visions,attitude and the relationships in our lives,can the days ahead grant us the blessings we desire! Changes in our lives are achieved only when we change and enrich our relationship with God. God wants to grant us the blessings we long for … but only when we change from the past….
To bring about this change in His people He has commanded a process for His people;to sanctify them and build an everlasting relationship with Him,to crown them with His blessings to be His glory on earth. And that process of change is Fasting,as proclaimed by God himself in Lev 16:29,30,and 31,Num29:7 and again 3 times through His prophet Joel. “Sanctify ye a Fast,call a solemn assembly,gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God,and cry unto the LORD. (Joel 1:14)” (Joel 2:1,2:15)
It is to bring about this change and establish an everlasting relationship with God,to experience the power and presence of His Son Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit,that the Inter Denominational Christian Fellowship of USA,Inc. has declared an International 24 Hour Fast on the 9th and 10th of January,2014. Restore your relationship with God ,renew your dedication to Him and experience the touch of the nail pierced hands of Jesus,making possible the impossible with healings,deliverance and above all,the amazing anointing of the Holy Spirit to make you a glowing testimony for Jesus in 2014 and ever after… God bless you.
As I travelled across Kerala during this Christmas season I saw hundreds of thousands of colorful Chinese paper stars with dazzling lights adorning towns,roads,and villages of “God’s own Country”. I cannot question the wisdom of the people of “God’s own Country”,in celebrating the birth of God’s only begotten Son in a pompous manner. However,these beautifully made stars by the Chinese did raise a couple of thoughts in my mind.
I am not a Communist,but I admire certain ideologies of Karl Marx,the founder of Communism,and Mao Tse-tung,who effectively revolutionized the world’s largest populace to Communism. I have been to China a couple of times and seen the industrious and illustrious Chinese people working hard without any of the slogans,strikes,or tantrums that paralyze public life. These Christmas Chinese Stars made me wonder how different the comrades around me are.
These Chinese stars found their way to the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala too –who have been dividing and subdividing,forming thousands of churches in the love of the Son of God,who was born and grew among the poorest of the poor. Many of them are competing in their ‘star’ count for making news in the media,while some are trying to make an entry into the Guinness Records by making their ‘stars’ as big as possible.
Amidst this glamour and glitter,I was approached by a couple of villagers from a mountain-top village called Bonekkad,with an area of 1200 acres,about 53 km away from Trivandrum. They wanted food for the poor,neglected people of Bonekkad on Christmas Day. I went there myself,to look into their sorrowful stories of starvation-deaths and poverty. I saw there the remnants of an old tea and cardamom estate planted by the British. Now there are only about 300 families left,as they have nowhere else to go. I did not see even a single Christmas star in any of their rotting shelters. There has been no supply of electricity for several years now,and Kerosene lamps are their only source of light. There are neither wells nor water supply. Their source of rust-tasting water comes through the huge rusted iron pipes laid by the British,ninety years ago from the river Kallar. There is an old dispensary without a doctor or medicines even for a fever or diarrhea. There are supposedly 4 to 5 bus services a day to connect them to the nearest town,down the valley 20 km away but only a couple of them operate. The houses are all simply shattered shelters. There are 3 churches in Bonekkad,which belong to very rich International churches,but they have done very little for the welfare of these poor people. I shared the plight of Bonekkad with a few of my friends around the world. The Word to World Welfare ministry was established. A request was made to cut a part of their decorations and to sacrifice at least one of their delicious dishes on Christmas day,to share the joy of Christmas with these poor people. About 38 families joined me in this noble cause.
Thus we were able to provide food packets worth Rs.550.00 to each family,which included 5 kg of rice,500g of sugar,500 g of coconut oil,one coconut,250g of Chilli powder,Coriander powder,Tea dust,salt,and other minor spices. While I was there,some of them asked whether we could give them a piece of cake as well –neither they nor their children had ever tasted one so far. Their request touched me and reminded of the thoughtless wastage at our homes. Special Christmas cakes were made for them.
The plight of Bonekkad inspired me to search for other such places around the capital of God’s own Country. Nine other places were located and as Christmas draws to a close,the small sacrifices of 38 families have helped the Word to World Welfare to share the Joy of Christmas with 948 poor families. While the hundreds of thousands of paper stars fade away after Christmas,these 38 families radiating divine love to these poor people,have become the real ‘stars’ of Christmas!!
Let compassion,comfort,and care for the poor be a part of your Christmas celebrations,paving the way to Heaven’s blessings for a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
It was at the Annual three day fasting prayer in New York, at the end of December 2012, that the Lord commanded me to build a church in the Ecumenical Convention Centre at Bangalore. This seemed a difficult task as this had to be built in an existing structure full of beams and huge pillars. Traditionally for most apostolic churches,the Mass can be celebrated in any premises –all that is needed is a table and a couple of candles. In fact,this is how small groups of believers celebrate Mass in places with no churches and in remote areas where there are little or no Christians. However such a makeshift church was not what the Lord wanted me to build. I have always desired to offer my heavenly father the best and most beautiful in whatever I do. The Lord promised me that His hand which was upon Ezra would be upon me too,to guide and strengthen me to accomplish this mighty task for Him. It was this blessing of God upon Ezra that enabled him to lead his people from captivity,lay the foundation and eventually build the second temple of Jerusalem.
On reaching Bangalore, I was greeted by utter spiritual darkness at the ground floor of the Ecumenical Convention Center that had to be restructured into the church. In the six years since it had been built,no worship had taken place there,and it had become a den of devils. The task at hand was made even more difficult by the fact that the prayer fellowship occupying the first floor was against a church being built there because their prophetess has prophesied that it was not God’s will to build a church there. Their venerable prophet also uttered the same words and started praying against the building of the church. Little did they realize that these uttering made by them in the name of prayer,was actually strengthening Lucifer himself who was all out to thwart,defeat and destroy me and prevent the construction of the church.
God’s hand was upon me throughout the whole process as He had promised me –revealing to me His plans for the church,just as He had shown His servant David the plans for the temple of Jerusalem, and guided me with the wisdom He had granted Solomon to build the temple of Jerusalem. The construction of the church was completed by the grace and hand of God amidst all these adversities. The Church was consecrated on April 3rd,2013,by His Grace Joseph Mar Koorilose Valiya Metropolitan amidst the praises and prayers of scores of people who had come for the ceremony,even from abroad. This is the fourth church the Lord had blessed me to construct and dedicate for His glory in the name of His Son Jesus Christ .The grandeur and uniqueness of the holy place,by far,is rarely seen in any other Churches.
The hand of God had miraculously and victoriously helped me accomplish the task He had entrusted me. Yes! The impossible is made possible when the hand of the Lord is upon you,guiding you and leading you. Praise be to His Holy name.
Most of us would have made very many resolutions,inspired by the Holy Spirit,at the dawn of the New Year,setting new goals for building the kingdom of God in 2013. Now that 10 days of 2013 have already passed by,let us take the time to reflect on what exactly we have done to accomplish these goals. Thomas Edison,one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen,soon after the discovery of the electric bulb,remarked that a genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In my spiritual experiences spanning over four decades,I have found this to be true even in accomplishing tasks for God.
Millions across the world are inspired by the Holy Spirit to attempt and accomplish great and mighty things for God. Their inspiration however,soon withers away,as they are not willing to perspire or toil hard,for the fulfillment of the goals inspired by the Holy Spirit. Some cite repeated failures or earlier reverses as the reason for their hesitation to start working. Edison confessed that he had attempted 3000 theories,before he could successfully invent the electric bulb .He never gave up though he failed during the previous 2999 attempts. Satan will use our past failures to discourage us,and make us disregard the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. He will even dishearten us,bringing to mind,our past sufferings in our endeavors for God,where God has remained silent and is yet to answer us. The divine calling of Moses should ignite us to action! At 80,when life seemed waning and wasted as a shepherd in the wilderness of Midian for 40 years,the Almighty God called Moses for one of the greatest missions He had for any human being.
Yes! We are not finished as yet. He still wants to use us! That is why the Holy Spirit has inspired us with new goals for God in the New Year. There are those who feel that there is no need to rush,as there remains yet another 355 days of 2013! They should be mindful of St. James warning:Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14 NASB).
So let us take that first step forward. Our Heavenly Father,who inspired us through the love of His son Jesus Christ,will empower us with His Spirit to accomplish the goals He has set before us.
Praise the Lord !