What a bizarre question…but it hasn’t been so many years since we have asked a similar question. Are Blacks human beings? As much as we would like to scoff and say “of course!!” with a note of indignance in our voice, there was a time when the Supreme court’s answer to this question was no. Not if they were slaves. In 1856 a man named Dred Scott, a black slave taken north of the Mason-Dixon line by his owner where slavery was prohibited by the Missouri Compromise. During his time north Scott sued for his freedom…and lost. The Supreme Court ruled that the compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress had no authority to limit slavery. Dred Scott was declared slavery or “chattel” human-property and as such was denied his inalienable human rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A civil war and 100 years of oppression stood between the slave as property and the slave as a human being.
Based on this precedent set by our Christian forefathers here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we should not be astonished to hear that other countries are struggling in a similar manner. Recently I heard an incredible story about the transforming power of the Word of God among the Binumarien tribe in Papua New Guinea.
In Papua New Guinea the state of women is a sad affair. Currently 70% of women are victim of rape and abuse, and the overall accepted view of women is very low.
In recent years a group of translators began working with a small group of believers among the Binumarien language group. They began to translate Genesis and when they got to the part where Eve was created from Adam’s rib, the leaders were absolutely astonished. They looked at the translators and exclaimed, “Why, that means that Eve was HUMAN, and that she was actually created out of man’s flesh and blood…” The translators were a bit shocked at that revelation as they had no idea that this group of Christians didn’t believe that their wives and daughters were actually human beings. Up until that moment they had viewed them as some kind of sub-species.
The Word of God, which is active and living and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrated the hearts of these men who had heard the Gospel but who had no access to God’s Word previously. Through the Word of God their entire view of women was completely changed. This impacted the lives of women and children and will continue to impact them for generations to come. God’s Word is amazing!
This is why Wojtek and I feel compelled to go and serve as part of a Bible-translation team in Papua New Guinea. Through our skills as a pilot and Registered Nurse we will be part of a team of workers that has cut over a decade off the process of translating a Bible. There is much work to be done, but examples like the Binumarien make it all worth it.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.