Hope is coming – sharing stories of Jesus with the Bedouin
Around a Bedouin fire, where God’s story of hope had never been heard before, Stephen* experienced the crucial need for Bibles in local languages.
It was one cold winter when I was sitting in a Bedouin tent in the desert. The animals were secure for the night, the fire was warm and we were drinking sweet black tea. I was in the men’s section, but unusually some of the older women had joined us, sitting further back but still benefiting from the warmth of the fire.
As we chatted and sipped tea, I took the opportunity to tell some stories, in their dialect. I started with the story of Abraham and with the sacrifice of Isaac—a story not completely unfamiliar to those who practice Islam. Then I went back to Adam and Eve and the fall, working up to the New Testament and John the Baptist who speaks of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Then the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus, and then of course his death. All the while I’m weaving in this image — from the Old Testament to the New—of a lamb being sacrificed.
An old grandmother was sitting at the back listening and, as I spoke of Jesus’ death, I could see in the light of the flames tears coming down her face. And it suddenly dawned on me: she has no idea how the story ends.
She doesn’t know what comes next. The cross, the crown of thorns, the hours of darkness, pain, loss. She had no idea that hope was coming on the very next page.
Can you remember a time in your life when you did not know how the story of Jesus ends? I certainly can’t. As I continued the story and came to the resurrection, I saw this Bedouin woman hear it for the very first time, and it really came home to me that hundreds of thousands of Bedouin alone have never heard the Gospel. And that translates to billions of people globally.
The next day, as we departed, we left them an audio version of the Bible in a dialect they would understand. That Bedouin lady is the face, for me at least, of those who would otherwise live and die without ever hearing the miraculous, life-changing, world-transforming, most important story of all time.