It was a missionary legend I had heard growing up. You know the kind, right? Every time you hear the story, it changes depending on who is telling it.
After a while, you know it really happened, but you’re just not sure how it happened.
I knew that Missionary David Dickson had been involved in reaching Garifuna people of Honduras, but I just didn’t know all of the details. So, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to sit down with David and hear some of the story.
He and his family had moved to Honduras to work alongside another missionary. One day, as David’s family spent time together at the coast, he noticed a couple of young boys speaking a language he didn’t understand. It wasn’t Spanish or English. He asked them (in Spanish) what they were speaking and they replied, “Garifuna.” Through their conversation, David learned that a large community of Garifuna people lived nearby.
That same day, David and his family explored the Garifuna village. Before long, David was working among the people to start a work there. However, learning the language proved difficult. He had hit a wall and needed help.
One day, he found out that a man in the village had a book in the Garifuna language. That was strange because a written language did not exist at that time.
When the man shared the book with David, he realized that it was a translation of the book of John produced through a ministry in Guatemala.
Soon, David found himself visiting the ministry in Guatemala City and inquiring about the publication. The ministry was the Latin American branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Before his visit ended that day, David met the lady who had translated the book of John. She had created the written language and begun translating the Bible into it.
Over time, the lady taught David the language as she continued translating. Eventually, she finished the entire New Testament in Garifuna. David had the privilege of helping the people learn their own language in written form and then present God’s Word to them in their language.
Eventually, David worked alongside the producers of the Jesus Film to put the movie in the Garifuna language. He recalled the night that they first showed the film to the Garifuna people. The first line Jesus spoke in the film was translated into a phrase unique to the Garifuna. David said he saw the surprise on the peoples’ faces as they said, “He speaks our language, too!”
Isn’t that a great description of Christ’s coming to earth? The Eternal Word became the Word made flesh so that He might speak the human language. The gospel came not only through Christ’s words, but also in Himself. We call it the incarnation.
Now, beleivers carry the gospel in the flesh in order to speak the language of the people that they might know Christ.
Praise God He speaks our language!