The most amazing translator I have ever met (Monday with Mounce 161)
Having been on the ESV and now on the NIV translation committee, I have met some amazing translators, men and women who love the Lord and his word.
But without diminishing my friends in any way, I have to tell you about the most amazing translator I have ever met.
Several years ago I was able to travel in Nepal and India, speaking at a several pastor conferences, and meeting people in their indigenous surroundings and asking what BiblicalTraining.org could do for them.
One day we made a trip to a relatively secret location, a house nestled in among many other houses, which is no surprise in Nepal. But, this house was different. We walked up the proverbial winding staircase to a third floor, and entered a brightly lit room with a small shelf of books, a desk with papers strewn all over, and piles of paper on the floor. As my eyes swept over the bookshelf I saw mostly older books, including the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia and a few John Piper books.
Then I saw, him, Pastor Nima Tshering.
By this time he was in his nineties, still not needing glasses (the Lord’s gift, no doubt), and he told me his story. In God’s providence, he was raised a Buddhist monk, was found by Christ, and spent the remaining years of his life translating the Bible into his native Tibetan language.
He has long been supported by New Directions, and JL tells the fuller story.
Pastor Nima and his wife, Ridgzin — affectionately known as “Pala” and “Amala” — are in many ways the patriarch and matriarch of indigenous Tibetan Christianity. As a young boy of seven, Pala was given to the Buddhist Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. For 28 years he was a faithful Buddhist monk, and even served, for a time, in the palace in Lhasa under the leadership of the Dali Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. Leaving Tibet, he traveled as a peripatetic monk in India where he contracted malaria. Pala was cared for in a Christian Mission Hospital where he first encountered Christian love and compassion.
Although he did not immediately accept Christ, he did so later. He then began to seek to reach out to his beloved Tibetan people living in exile in India and Nepal. Because Nepal was the first point of entry for Tibetans fleeing the Chinese persecution in Tibet, Pala began his ministry there. He took in children who were orphaned as a result of their parents dying in the long dangerous trek across the frigid mountains. This place of refuge was called Champa Choeling, or “Place of Love.” Since the Scriptures had not been translated into the “heart language” of the Tibetan people, Pala dedicated his life to that task. So for over 15 years, he translated the Old Testament into the common language of his people. At his side through all of these years has been his son, Yacob, and his wife, Linda.
Pala is now 93 years old!
When I think of how I have been involved in translations — nice hotels, scenic locations, computers, a group of us — I was humbled to talk with this man and to hear his love for the Lord and his Tibetian people.
I was even more amazed at a God who would so orchestrate reality that Pala was trained in the best educational system in the area, fully engage in Buddhist and Tibetian culture, and then pluck him out, preserve him from martyrdom, keep his eyes working despite all the little print of his sources, and call him to translate. Utterly amazing.
May we praise God for his bountiful provisions and sustenance in all the tasks that he has give to us.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek, and is the general editor for Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. Learn more about Bill at BillMounce.com, and visit his other blog on spiritual growth, Life is a Journey, at BiblicalTraining.org.
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