THE KAZAKH HOLY BOOK
by David Sisler
One of the joys of my life is reading. I read constantly, and usually more than one book, magazine and/or newspaper at a time. If I walk into a bookstore, it is as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow morning that I will buy a book. I buy books about writing, books about computers, books about Bible study, and books about Russia. I buy John Grisham, Tom Clancey and Tony Hillerman novels.
I cannot imagine not being able to read. I remember my first grade reader, stories about Alice and Jerry and their dog, Jip. Jump Jip. Jump. I remember reading to Mom. I remember Mom telling me she thought about strangling me if I read one more story. I remember the excitement of finishing one book and receiving a new one from Mrs. McComas, my first grade teacher. I love to read.
The only thing worse than not being able to read would be to know how to read, but to have no reading material. For believers in Kazakhstan who wanted to read God's Word in their own language, that was the case until now. The Bible was simply not available in their language.
Ninety-eight percent of Kazakhstani's can read and write. The nation's population of 18 million includes 7 million Kazakhs and 6 million Russians. There are almost 300 Protestant congregations and almost all of their members speak Russian. Geoff Thomas, writing in Banner of Truth says that ten years ago there were only six Kazakh Christians, today there are 6000. More than 80 churches have been planted in the last two years.
Now they have the Bible in their own language. The Kazakh Holy Book contains the entire New Testament and 16 Old Testament books, including Psalms, Proverbs and Isaiah.
"Demand for this Kazakh Holy Book is huge," notes the Rev. Waldemar Kurz, the Bible League's director of ministries for the former Soviet Union. "About half of the 44,000 first-run new-edition Kazakh Holy Books were placed with churches and mission agencies within a month of their arrival," he added.
In a report published by Crosswalk.com, a missionary in Kazakhstan using the new Kazakh Holy Book says, "You cannot imagine the thrill of seeing Kazakh believers – church leaders who have been believers for two, three and four years – with the entire New Testament in their hands for the first time. If I were able to describe the joy on their faces, it would bring tears to your eyes."
A half-dozen paragraphs or so ago I told you I am a book buyer. I left the Bible off of that initial list, but I do buy Bibles. On the desk behind me are 15 Bibles or New Testaments. They represent six translations or paraphrases: the New International Version (today's best seller of Scripture in the English language), the King James Version, the Amplified Version, the Message, the New Century Version, and the J. B. Phillips translation. I have the Books of Poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon) in one volume comprising 26 translations. I have the New Testament in 26 translations. And as my Dad used to tell me, I can only read one of them at a time.
Every once in a while some one will tell me, "I don't read the Bible. I can't understand it." That excuse may have worked when I was a boy in Grandma Gracie's Sunday school class, but no longer. The Message translates scripture into "street language," much the way it was originally written. The New Century Version is a faithful translation written for a sixth grade reading level.
There are too many modern language versions of God's Word for it to be left unread. You can choose paper back, hard back, or leather cover. You can choose from dozens of translations, most of them trustworthy (all that I have mentioned in this column are).
Can you imagine the Kazakhs not having one single Bible in their language? Can you imagine having so many English versions and not reading any of them? Buy one. Read it. Live it. Fall in love with its Author.
ADDITIONAL ON KAZAKHSTANI BELIEVERS:
From a copyrighted report by the Keston Institute, January 31, 2001:
"TURKMENISTAN: PROTESTANTS RAIDED, ONE BEATEN
"by Felix Corley, Keston News Service
"Police have raided a Bible study being held by a Protestant church in the Turkmen capital Ashgabad in the latest in a series of moves to crush remaining Protestant activity in the Central Asian state, Keston News Service has learned from sources in Ashgabad. The Bible study organized by the Word of Life church was raided in the evening of 31 January and some 25 people attending were taken to the police station, where they were interrogated. Reports say one of the Protestants was beaten by the police. All were said to have been freed the same evening. There is no information on whether any of them were fined.
"During their detention, police officers and representatives of the khyakimlik (local administration) pressured the Protestants to write statements saying they would no longer take part in such ‘illegal' religious activity. Most of them reportedly refused to write such statements.
"The Turkmen government regards all activity by all Protestant churches as ‘illegal', despite the fact that no published law specifically bans unregistered religious activity (Protestant churches are not allowed to gain registration). This month has seen increased pressure on Protestant communities, including fines on members of the Pentecostal church and the Church of Christ in Ashgabad, a raid and pressure on members of Ashgabad's Greater Grace church, the revocation of the residence permit in the Caspian port city of Turkmenbashi and expulsion of a leading pastor of a Baptist church and the detention of a Protestant Christian in the capital by police searching for three Protestant leaders currently in hiding."
And now about that Bible reading...
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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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