This week, I just had to share a remarkable story that came from a Wycliffe Missionary…”God’s love story is now available to 29,000 Hdi speakers of Cameroon through the recently published Hdi New Testament! In the translation process, the national translators discovered a word they had never used in their language, dvu, the Hdi word for unconditional love. Its discovery impacted them dramatically.
One night in a dream, God prompted translator Lee Bramlett to look again at the Hdi word for love. Lee knew that verbs in this language consistently end in one of three vowels, i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?
Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, which included the most influential leaders in the community, ‘Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?’ ‘Yes,’ they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.
‘Could you ‘dva’ your wife?’ ‘Yes,” they said. That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.
‘Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?’ Everyone laughed. ‘Of course not! If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.’
Thinking about John 3:16, Lee then asked, ‘Could God ‘dvu’ people?’
There was complete silence for three or four minutes; tears started to trickle down the faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded, ‘Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.’
God had encoded the story of His unconditional love right into their language. For centuries, the little word was there—unused but available. The word called into question their entire belief system.”
So this week, let’s all spend some time thinking about God’s unconditional love for us!