What the Teacher Taught
When Jaco, our best translation helper, told me he had turned himself to God to follow Him, I started to cry. For thirteen years, Jo and I had worked, prayed, and waited for that moment. During the weeks following this magnificent event, I had been teaching my new younger brother in Jesus how to apply the Scriptures to himself.
For this devotional exercise, one morning, we read the first chapter of 1st Thessalonians. The night before, I had found and prepared some “prime the pump” verses that I could suggest just in case he couldn’t think of anything special.
I asked Jaco to read the chapter out loud. He did, and I asked, “What is God saying to you in this chapter?”
He replied, “Oh, the idea in verse nine, of course! That’s the best verse in the whole chapter!”
Huh, what? Verse nine? That wasn’t on my “prime the pump” list of ideas!
Then he read it and explained, “Look, Paul is happy with those Jesus followers in Thessalonica because they turned away from the fake dead gods to serve Our Living Father in the Sky!”
“Yes, that’s nice,” I said, “but what about it?” I was thinking of fake gods as worshiping images of idols, something Canelas did not practice.
“Look, they are just like me!” Jaco exclaimed, “I turned away from fearing the ghosts of our dead ancestors, away from the spirits of dead beings, and turned toward Our Father who is alive. So I don’t need to concern myself with dead things anymore, but with a living Father in the Sky!”
What the Student Taught the Teacher
Of course! A Canadian would never think of that! Jaco’s focus on that verse reminded me of how Canelas live in fear of the ghosts of the dead and constantly seek to appease them by practicing traditional ceremonies and rituals.
What God Taught the Teacher
God, too, had a lesson for me. “Listen, Jack, my Holy Spirit is well able to teach young Canela believers directly from My Word. You just keep on translating My Word into their language so I can speak personally to them.”
With that strong encouragement, Jaco and I spent every moment we were together to work on the translation.
Some weeks later, I asked Jaco to write his story of how he turned to follow God. Here’s a translation of what he wrote:
Yes, I’m going to tell you how I turned to follow Jesus’ path because doing this has made me very happy. And that is no little thing to me.
Yes, I lived reading our Father’s Word for a long time, but I did not live following it. I may as well not have been reading it; that is how badly I lived. I used to speak badly about my friends; I lived thoughtlessly. I lived to please myself. Jesus saw me and was ashamed of me. I, however, was not ashamed of myself. Now, however, I have purposed within myself to turn from all these things. No man forced me to do this.
One day I sat quietly reading our Father’s Word, and I said to myself, “I am surely reading our Father’s Book. Why don’t I turn towards Him?” And then I did.
Jaco’s Friends Are Afraid of Change
And I told my friends and counselled my family according to the words of our Father, saying, “We should all enter into Jesus’ group.” But they didn’t want to enter, and some tried to turn me aside from my purpose, saying, “Don’t do this. If you do, evil will befall all of us. Our gardens will fail. Our wives will miscarry. These, your thoughts, are not ours. These ideas are different and wrong. Bad things will happen.”
But I replied, “How can this be? Our Father loves all people. He loves and looks after those who follow Him whether they be Indians like us or black people or whites.”
And again, I urged them and asked, “Will our group someday resolve to become followers of our Father, turning themselves after Him?” But no one replied; they all sat quietly. So, I left them and just talked to our Father and said, “My Father, once I lived belonging to our Enemy, but now I am Yours. Now our Enemy is troubling me, so, therefore, make me strong and keep him far from me.”
Yes, this is what our Father will do for me and for anyone who turns himself to follow after Him. My story is done.
The Teacher Learns One More Lesson
The conclusion of Jaco’s testimony was another valuable lesson to me, especially since years of Satanic opposition lay ahead. Jaco reiterated the ending of the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from the Evil One.”