Monday, June 30, 2008

Power of the Word, Friendship

I just stumbled across the blog of a person in Indiana who is passionate about giving free copies of the Book of Mormon to anyone he can, most particularly those whose native language is not English. I believe his practice is to give an English Book of Mormon in addition to the specific foreign language copy, thus enabling that person to use the Book of Mormon as a means to improve his or her English language skills in addition to learning more about God and Jesus Christ.

While on my mission to Samoa, I used a side-by-side, verse-by-verse comparison of English and Samoan copies of the Book of Mormon to help me learn Samoan. This practice helped immensely. If you are familiar with the movie the Other Side of Heaven, which was first a book, you will remember that Elder John Groberg had a particularly remarkable experience as he used his Tongan and English Bibles to help him learn Tongan. There is power in the word of God.

Bookslinger, the blogger in Indiana, has personally given out copies of the Book of Mormon in 56 different languages! Here's the list as it appears on Bookslinger's blog:

Afrikaans (South Africa), Albanian (Nov 2007), Amharic (Ethiopia), Arabic, Bengali (Bangladesh, India), Cambodian, Cebuano (Philippines), Croatian, Dutch, Chinese, English, Fante (Ghana), French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hiligaynon (aka Ilonggo) (Philippines), Hindi (India), Hungarian, Igbo (Nigeria), Ilokano (Philippines), Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kisii (Kenya), Korean, Laotian, Latvian, Lingala (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Lithuanian, Mongolian, Navajo, Persian (aka Farsi) (Iran), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Shona (Zimbabwe), Sinhala (India), Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya), Tagalog (Philippines), Tamil (Sri Lanka, India), Telugu (India), Thai, Tongan, Tswana (Botswana), Turkish, Twi (Ghana), Ukrainian, Urdu (Pakistan), Vietnamese, Xhosa (South Africa), Yoruba (Nigeria), Zulu (South Africa).

I can't help but be impressed by his efforts. I'm sure that he's made a number of friends simply by showing that he cares, that he's interested in people, and that he wants them to have reading material in their native languages. I know the importance of that from personal experience.

When I was in Samoa, I met an elderly man named Allen. He had been in the islands for decades but still didn't know much, if any, Samoan. He told Elder L. and me that he was a Southern Baptist and knew his Bible (which he did) and that he wasn't going to change religions. We visited him anyway because he liked to talk to us and we liked to hear him talk. He'd tell us about his life in Alaska and in Samoa. He once said that he'd read anything he could get in English, so we started taking him copies of the Church News. I explained to him that we weren't trying to push religion on him as much as we wanted to give him something to read. Many of the articles in the Church News are about men and women of Allen's generation. He did enjoy reading them. I never taught Allen a single lesson about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints per his suggestion that he wasn't going to change religions. But we became friends anyway.

Sometime after I was transferred out of the Pesega area in which Allen lived, I received the news that Allen had been baptized, he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a 70 to 80 year old man Allen found a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He did so, in part, because he felt genuine concern for his well-being from a number of young men who represented Jesus Christ and who visited him regularly as friends.

I share this experience, and those of Bookslinger, to show that there really are no ulterior motives in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ when we are motivated by a spirit of love and friendship.


Deb said...

Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed reading it. It has helped to strengthen my desire to increase my own efforts to both be a better friend and to share my love for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you!

JoJo said...

Nate Black? Jo (Hall)! I'm actually Jo Bird now... but anyway! I was beginning to feel discouraged about all the cynicism and criticism of the church on the internet and was starting to feel like throwing my computer out the window lest I get too depressed. Then I read the article in this month's Ensign about sharing the gospel on the internet. Thanks for being an example! Anyway, come see my little fam on our blog! Great to "hear" from you!

Bookslinger said...

Thanks for the kind words, and the link!

Joe Blow said...

Dude- we are going to blockbuster in an hour. I'm stoked.