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S5 E7 | How the Indigenous New Testament Helps Us All with Terry Wildman

“In some ways we judge the story by the storyteller.” Colonialism corrupted the beautiful message of the Gospel when it forced Christianity on Indigenous people. The First Nations Version of the New Testament (FNV) seeks to remove those colonial barriers and present the beauty of Jesus’ story. Terry Wildman, lead translator and project manager of FNV, talks with Amy Julia about how this translation is a gift from Native people to Native people, as well as to the dominant culture and the Church as a whole.

Guest Bio:

“Terry M. Wildman (Ojibwe and Yaqui) is the lead translator, general editor, and project manager of the First Nations Version. He serves as the director of spiritual growth and leadership development for Native InterVarsity. He is also the founder of Rain Ministries.”

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Interview Quotes

“…Christianity was brought to our Native people and forced on us, technically. In some sense, we didn’t make our own decision from reading the Bible or from hearing the gospel. We didn’t make our own decision. We were told this is what we have to do. And so to me faith comes out of a willing heart that hears…the story of the gospel.”

“Even the word ‘Christian’ can bring up barriers. Even the word ‘church’ can bring up barriers because of those [colonial] experiences. So we intentionally used other words so that those barriers don’t immediately go up. We’re not trying to deceive anyone or any of our Native people. We’re just trying to present the Scriptures in a way so that the barriers that the colonial experiment on our people produced aren’t in the way. And then Native people can make up their own mind based on the story of Jesus told in a more Native way.”

“This [translation] is not only a gift from Native people to other Native people, but it’s also a gift from a group of Native people to the dominant culture…it opens up new ways of seeing God.”

“When you take something as beautiful as the gospel—and I believe the gospel is a wonderful, beautiful story when it’s understood—and when you force that on somebody, in oppressive ways, you destroy the message of it because Native people, traditionally, we don’t just listen to the story. We evaluate the storyteller. And if the storyteller isn’t consistent with the story, then we don’t believe the story.”

“In some ways we judge the story by the storyteller.”

“We hope that the First Nation Version will re-present the story of Jesus without those colonial barriers and wordings and help Native people do what we’ve always done—look at another spiritual way and spiritual values in a story and see how it fits our stories and also to see how it fits our lives.”

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*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.

Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Terry (4s):
When you take something as beautiful as the gospel. And I, I believe the gospel is a wonderful, beautiful story when it’s understood. And when you force that on somebody with oppress in oppressive ways, you destroy the message because native people now they are not just our traditionally we don’t just listen to the story. We evaluate the storyteller. And if the storyteller isn’t consistent with the story, then we don’t believe the story.

Amy Julia (40s):
Hi friends, I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. Today, I get to talk with Terry Wildman. Terry has led a team of indigenous people and they have translated the new Testament, wait for it from English into English, and they use the Greek. I don’t mean that, but I didn’t mess up in what I just told you in that they were trying to translate the new Testament into a different way of seeing the world through the English language that was more accessible and available to native people. So Terry’s going to explain that new actor translation and what that offers both to indigenous peoples, as well as to the church more broadly.

Amy Julia (1m 27s):
I want to let you know, we have a free copy that we get to give away of this new Testament. First nations version I’ve been using it personally, and really appreciating the perspective it offers. So if you are someone who is interested in the new Testament, so, you know, do what you need to do to be a part of this giveaway, which means going to my social media platforms. So you can find me at Amy, Julia Becker on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, and you can find out there what you need to do in order to be a part of this giveaway. I really appreciated everything that I learned from talking with Terry today. And I’m sure you will too.

Terry (2m 9s):
My guest today is Terry Wildman, the lead translator, general editor and project manager of a new translation of the new Testament. It’s called the first nations version. And we are going to talk all about it today. Terry, welcome. Thanks for having me Well, so there’s a lot, I want to talk to you about today, but I thought we needed to start at the beginning, which is to say, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and especially as it relates to how you came to be the project manager or lead translator, all those things. I just said general editor of a new translation of the new Testament. So tell us about this. Sure.

Terry (2m 48s):
I’d love to, well, first of all, I’ll say my wife and I live in Maricopa, Arizona today. We live in the traditional lands of the Pima and to O’odham my native ancestry and includes both Ojibwe and Yaki. So we’re talking about the first nation version of the new Testament today. And this was my wife and I have been in ministry with native people for just, just over 20 years. We started out on the Hopi Indian reservation in Northern Arizona.

Terry (3m 31s):
And we, I pastor I served with wham a couple of years in pastored, a church for three years there on second Mesa. So I never dreamed I’d ever be involved in a Bible translation or, you know, in any way I wasn’t trained for it. I wasn’t even thinking of that, but what happened as I, as we were living on the reservation there, and I was working on building relationships with, with Hopi people and, and many of them were, were, were interested in the message of Jesus and, and everything.

Terry (4m 14s):
And, and so I, but I noticed that they weren’t in the meetings. We were having a lot of the men and women weren’t connecting deeply with the, you know, like the new international version where we’re using. And so I began to experiment a little bit with rewording some of the scripture to have more of a native feel to it. You see most of most people, most native people don’t speak their language, right? We because of government assimilation policies because of church boarding schools and things like that, we, we, most of us are unable to speak our language.

Terry (5m 1s):
And so all these Bibles that were translated into our native tongue, they, most of our people, 95% probably can’t read them. And so they Aren’t, It has been done to translate from English into native languages, which is different than translating into the language that the people you’ve been working with would actually be able to receive as their own. Right. That’s right. And so when I lived on the Hopi reservation, as we began to experiment with these, this rewarding in English, we’re doing it in English now because you know, the people aren’t reading their own languages.

Terry (5m 53s):
For example, we, when I pastored a church on Hopi, I found a, in the storage room in a box, I found a box of hoping new Testament’s written in the Hopi language. Yeah. But again, I couldn’t find only maybe one person who could partially read that Hopi Bible. Wow. So it wasn’t even in use, so it wasn’t being used used. And so I just began to do some research and to try to figure out, has there been a translation it’s been done in English worded for our native people? Right.

Terry (6m 33s):
And I couldn’t find one. Yeah. There was a lot of Bibles with native covers on them and, and things like that, simple translations. And so I, and so I just began to experiment and in that experiment, working with some of the native men and women and getting ideas from them and putting those ideas together, as we looked at versus some of my favorite verses, we began to reword them. And I was starting to get a lot more feedback and interaction by the men and women that were involved in that process. So that’s kind of the beginning. That was way back in, in 1993.

Terry (7m 14s):
And my wife and I were living, living on the Hopi res there, and I was pastoring a church there. And then it really wasn’t until about, I’m sorry, not 1993. I’m I’m, I’m, I’m 10 years off, 2003, 2003. Okay. But, but almost 20 years ago. And so after I had been experiment meeting with that and my wife and I decided to do a, a, a CD we’re both recording artists. So we did a CD that was a spoken word CD, and went from creation to Christ and, and retold the story kind of, you know, brought down to about a 15 minutes CD, condensing it down, telling the main elements all the way through.

Terry (8m 11s):
And we did it using this kind of English that was related to our native people, using terms for God like creator and great spirit and other language that, that wasn’t kind of churchy language. Yeah. And, and that CD, we ended up submitting it to the native American music awards and it won best spoken word that year in 2008. And so by that time, I thought, wow, I think, I think this is something that could be important. People are receiving this. People are liking our CD and I kept working on more and more verses. So then my wife and I began to travel.

Terry (8m 53s):
We traveled all across turtle island, north America, and we shared it tribal centers and native churches on reservations. And I began to use these reworded passages from Psalms and Ephesians in the gospels. And we would use them in a, as my wife and I would do music. And the feedback we got as I read these passages was amazing. A native people would come up to me and say, you say it in English, the way we hear it. I mean, thinking in our language, you have Bible where you reading from.

Terry (9m 37s):
I said, well, there isn’t a Bible like that. And they said, well, there should be. And so that feedback kind of encouraged me. And I started getting other feedback from people and encouragement along the way. And finally, I committed myself to doing it, even though I didn’t, I couldn’t find anyone else that was doing it. So I just prayed. I prayed hard. And I started the process. We did a book called birth of the chosen one. Yeah. Is the, the Christmas story. I did another one called when the great spirit walked them, which is the four gospels in one story.

Terry (10m 22s):
And I built a website. I, I created a Facebook page. So people would see that I was launching out with this project and I was, I was getting help. I was asking native people to help me give me feedback and things like that. But then when I started the action in 2015, I started on Matthew starting the actual new Testament and working hard using a log us Bible software. And no, I’m not a Greek scholar, but I know how to access Greek scholars. I know how to access all this information, but a Bible translation organization in Canada called one book reached out to me, the CEO, Wayne Johnson.

Terry (11m 5s):
And he saw what we were doing. He found us accidentally on the internet when he was looking for something else and said, wow, I like this project you’re working on. How would you like to talk about working together and partnering with a Bible translation organization? And so that’s what we did. And so in June, 2015, we are our ministry. Rain ministries partnered with one book of Canada. One book is, was at the time doing 35 translations in Africa, working with indigenous peoples and the, their organization, their philosophy is the missionary or the, the non native person does not do the translation.

Terry (11m 52s):
Right. And so they wanted the indigenous people to do the translation. So we agreed and we partnered together. And that was how we began this project. And that really gave me what I needed to feel confident enough that this would be a received translation and it would be well done and, and respected. So that’s what I, that was kind of how it began. Thank you so much for that story. And I, and obviously the fact that that was 2015 and we’re talking almost in 2022, tells me how long labor of work and love that this, this has been. And I know you weren’t alone in doing that.

Terry (12m 33s):
I think it might be helpful to even just pause for a minute on two things like one, as you said, on some level you’re translating from Greek to English, but to a different, it’s not a different English in the sense of words that would not be familiar to me as an English speaker and as a white person, but they are, it’s a way of seeing the world that is not necessarily as familiar as it would, you know, maybe the NIV or some other translation would be to me. And I think that speaks to the idea, and it might just be worth saying that the Bible has always been a book that is meant to be translated. That even the first copies of the Bible, we have our translations in the sense that we know Jesus was not speaking Greek.

Terry (13m 20s):
And yet we have his words in Greek because that was the people who were reading those first Bibles were speaking in Greek, or we have these Greek copies of what we call the old Testament, even though it was originally written in Hebrew. But the Bible has always been a scripture that is meant to be accessible to people in their native languages. And what I hear you saying is essentially for indigenous peoples in America, the English that I know is the same language, but it’s not the same way as of seeing the world. And so a new, a different way of translating the word of God is really helpful in terms of understanding who God is and what God wants us to know.

Terry (14m 2s):
Is that a fair way of kind of, I don’t know. Yeah, that is right on, right on track. That’s, that’s the perfect idea that the difference in the, in the English is we use different terminology than the standard translations. We, we don’t use the word God, you know, we use the word creator or great spirit and sometimes a few other ways of referring to the divine being that, that, that the Greek, the Greek word, we also use the meanings of the names. Every name in the new Testament has a meaning. And so in that, and that relates to our native tradition that our names traditionally have meaning.

Terry (14m 44s):
And so, so, and, and the Hebrew language, that’s true. So we put the meaning of the names in there, and we use other phrases sometimes because of the way Christianity was brought to our native people and, and forced on us technically. And so we didn’t, in some sense, we didn’t have, make our own decision from reading the Bible or from hearing the gospel. We didn’t make our own decisions. We were told, this is what we have to do. And so to me, faith comes out a willing heart that, that hears something, faith comes by hearing, right?

Terry (15m 26s):
Yeah. And hearing the word of creator, hearing his words and hearing that the story of the gospel. And so people hear, even in English, we hear in different ways, depending on how we’re raised words have different meanings to us sometimes. And because of our experiences, some words can be a negative words to us, even though they’re not necessarily, wouldn’t be to other people. For example, for example, the word sin was a word that we did not use in the, in the, in the translation. We used broken ways. We used bad hearts, depending on the context, because in our, in the boarding schools, sin meant being, speaking.

Terry (16m 14s):
Your language was a sin wearing long hair was a sin. Okay. So basically sin was a culturation, right? Sin was assimilation, which, or sorry, was a lack of assimilation, right. To remain who you are and belong to your people was considered sin. And so to use that word is not helpful at all, Right? It, it brings up barriers and even the word Christian can bring up barriers. Even the word church can bring up barriers because of those experiences. So we intentionally used other words, so that those barriers don’t immediately go up, right?

Terry (16m 58s):
We’re not trying to deceive anyone or any of our native people. We’re just trying to present their scriptures in a way. So that the barriers that these, the colonial experiment on our people produced aren’t in the way, and then native people can make up their own mind based on the story of Jesus told in a more native way. Yeah. I want to come back to that point and talk a little bit more later about that colonialism and some of these themes you’ve brought up, but I wanted to ask first when you were, it sounds like when you were creating this translation, it was specifically for indigenous peoples and yes, at least from my social media feeds and my, even my own experience, I know that it is being read by people broadly across America.

Terry (17m 51s):
And I’m curious whether you see there being like a different purpose in me as a white woman, you know, in Connecticut reading this Bible, then someone who is living on the reservation and I’m encountering Jesus from a native perspective. Yes. That’s one of the things that we learned early on as we began to work on this translation and share portions of it is non non-native. People really liked it. You know, most of them, not everybody, of course, but non native people liked it. And our transplant, we formed a translation council as, as part of this process and our translation councils thought, we thought, wow, we’re making this for our native people, but we’re seeing that it’s also going to touch non native people.

Terry (18m 46s):
And so as is that okay, we’re saying, of course it is, you know, so w so one of the things that we say now is that this is not only a gift for our native, from native people to other native people, but it’s also a gift from a group of native people to the dominant culture. And, and we’ve seen that, that, that gift has benefits to people because they get to hear the gospel freshly and new. And that’s the feedback we get that from people that are, are non-native, that it’s fresh and new, and actually opens up new ways of seeing God.

Terry (19m 31s):
And, you know, Mo a lot of people, we don’t realize it, but I have a motto cultural view of God. Well, and even what you were saying about the hang ups that people have with the word sin or church or Christian, those would be different in different cultural experiences. But I think a lot of people have, you know, where using new language can bring a freshness and an opportunity to engage with the stories and the truths in a very different way for really anyone. And I think that, and even just that w we’ll get to in just a second, I’m reading from one of these passages in the new Testament.

Terry (20m 13s):
But I think that the experience of encountering the meaning behind the names, all of those things have a purpose specifically when you’re thinking about what it means to translate in a native context, but they have different, but somewhat similar purpose for me to read and say, oh, I never thought about it that way. That’s a really helpful lens, so I can see why it can be used in a variety of contexts in a really, really helpful way. And it also follows the eye, the tradition of our native American storytellers. We, our storyteller tellers traditionally told those stories are ancient stories in ways that were unique to the storyteller and meaningful, meaningful to the listeners.

Terry (20m 57s):
So a storyteller would draw from history, tradition and experience, and they, they will ensure the essence of the story is preserved without the need to present a strict word for word recital. And so, and, and one of the things is if you really read the four gospels, you will see that the, the gospel writers actually reordered some events, certainly. Yeah, they have, they take, I don’t know, narrative Liberty, or, I mean, the fact that we preserved all four of them, I think shows exactly what you’re talking about, which is rendering these stories for different contexts and from different perspectives is actually a part of not just our tradition, but actually a part of what God has given us as a way to understand who we are and who God is to.

Terry (21m 53s):
Well let’s. I know I wanted to make sure we get a chance to actually read from this translation. And as we are approaching the season of advent and Christians are looking ahead to the birth of Jesus, I thought we could actually just read from a passage of one of the birth stories. And I think you had selected what is often called the Magnificant. Right. So would you just explain what you’re going to read? And then we can listen to you read it and talk about it a little bit. So this portion of scripture is often called the Magnificant it’s Mary’s prayer when, after she meets with her sister or her cousin Elizabeth, and, and she just has this almost prophetic kind of inspirational exuberant song like prayer.

Terry (22m 48s):
And so we, in the, in the, in the first nation version, we call it the song of bitter tears and bitter tears is the name we chose for Mary partially because of the re one of the roots for the word, Mary could be Mara in the Hebrew, which is bitter. And also because the, she th the prophecy she received from, I think it was Simeon was that, and, you know, a sword will Pierce her heart, right. You know? And so I’ll share the, the song of bitter tears.

Terry (23m 32s):
When bitter tears heard this, she was filled with gladness and her words float out like a song from deep in my heart. I dance with joy to honor the great spirit. Even though I am small and weak, he noticed me now I will be looked up to by all the mighty one has lifted me up. His name is sacred. He is the great, and holy one, her face seemed to shine. As she continued. He shows kindness and pity to both children and elders who respect him. His strong arm has brought low.

Terry (24m 14s):
The ones who think they are better than others. He counts KU with arrogant warrior chiefs, but puts a head dress of honor on the ones with humble hearts. She smiled, looked up to the sky and shouted for joy. He prepares a great feast for the ones who are hungry, but sends the fat ones home with empty bellies. He has been kind to the tribes of wrestles with creator, Israel who walk in his ways for, he has remembered the ancient promises he made to our ancestors to father of many nations and his descendants.

Terry (24m 56s):
When she finished, they both laughed with joy, with hearts, full of gladness. They told each other their stories. Hmm. Thank you. And for anyone who is interested, that is what Luke 2 46 through 55, I think. And so it’s, you know, very recognizable to me, I think in terms of the sentiment behind what I’ve always heard of, you know, in either the NIV or NRSV translation of the Bible. And yet, of course there are a lot of different words and a lot of different images, and that brings both a new life to it.

Terry (25m 37s):
It asks, prompts me to ask questions in a new way, but I also wanted to hone in on this particular verse 52, because it is one that without your little note in the Bible, I wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. He counts KU with arrogant warrior chiefs, but puts a headdress of honor on the ones with humble hearts. Will you just explain that verse to those of us who don’t know what counts KU means To count coup for many of the Plains tribes was in when they were in war possibly with another tribe, many of them had what was called a coup stick.

Terry (26m 18s):
It was a stick, I don’t know, maybe a couple of feet long, very short, maybe three feet. And on the end would have been an Hawk claw or an Eagle claw. And so in battle, a warrior would be fighting and they might reach out with acoustic and scratch the face of an enemy rather than kill it. The enemy to show that they had respect for that enemy. But also to say, I have, I, you know, I could’ve killed you, but I spared you. And so that idea of, of counting coup that would be counting Kusa what would happen is every time a warrior would, would scratch an enemy and successfully do that.

Terry (27m 11s):
He would put a slash on his COOs stick. And so he would count the number of slashes, which would be counting his cous, counting coup would be, he actually was successful in what he was trying to accomplish through this, in, in that battle. And so we related that to God doing that Right to God, essentially showing mercy without what, trying to justify, you know, the behavior of someone who is an arrogant warrior chief, according to this.

Terry (27m 51s):
Right. The other thing I wanted to just ask a little bit about, and I know we’ve talked about this a little bit already, but the process of naming, because it came up here, we already explained bitter tears, but then you also, as you were reading mentioned, wrestles with creator as a name for the people of Israel and father of many nations as a name for Abraham. I think places also are given their names as meanings rather than. So, for example, I can’t remember. It’s Really just peace Village of peace. Right? So talk to me about what difference it makes to speak of people, names and place names with their meaning as their primary identifiers.

Terry (28m 41s):
Like how, how does that, how does that change the way we receive the word? Well, one of the things, you know, for, for, for native people, it connects to that cultural value that we have, the names have meaning traditional. It connects us to our traditional ways. So when they, when they, when we hear the Bible and the names being presented that way instantly, it, it, it draws us in. And that’s the feedback that we got probably the way we did names has been the most positive feedback we’ve gotten from our native people, for non native people.

Terry (29m 23s):
It’s such a surprise to know suddenly that names, all these names have meanings and sometimes even the meaning of the name gives insight to the story. Yeah. Enriches the story. Absolutely. And then, so it’s something, as you were just saying some of the names very, I mean, sometimes we’ll even read in the Bible and it will tell us what a name means, others, I’m sure you had to research where there, anywhere you had to just make a guest or decide we’re going to do it this way. There is, there was probably three or four, maybe five different names of places, sometimes in a couple of different, not people pretty much.

Terry (30m 5s):
It was mostly places that we just couldn’t find the meaning of it. And so what we did, I think one of them might’ve been for one of the villages that Jesus spoke against in, in, in Judea that was going to face trouble because they rejected his message. I think we called one of them village of bad spirits. And so we made that up. But, but when we had to make up a name, we tried to do it within the context of that story, that that name is, is found in.

Terry (30m 46s):
And so, so it would make some kind of sense. And I’m actually, I realized I didn’t ask this earlier and I should have, we, I know there was like a committee of people who were involved in this translation. It obviously started as something that you were doing as you described in almost an ad hoc, like kind of figure it out as I go type of way. Was there then an official, I don’t know, a group of people from various backgrounds and perspectives who were just making these decisions. How did that work? Yes. And you can, you can find about out about this whole process on our website, but our, our translation council, we, we created a translation council of 12.

Terry (31m 30s):
I was one of the 12 and it was selected from a cross section of native north Americans, elders, pastors, young adults, men, and women from different tribes and diverse geographic locations. And the council also represented a diversity of church and denominational tradition, which helps minimize the bias and that every translation faces. Wow. That, how was that process of working together? I mean, that sounds on the one hand that kind of ideal and beautiful. And on the other hand, unwieldy and how do you ever actually make, Well, the good thing was I already had because of all the 10 years that my wife and I traveled on the road, we had created many good relationships in all of our council where people we knew and people we knew and agreed with basically in, in our philosophy of ministry.

Terry (32m 24s):
And so, yes, we had our 12 and we spent time in, in, in Calgary Canada, we spent three weeks at a retreat center. All of our people together, as we hammered out some of these ways that we were going to translate different words Wycliffe had about, has about 180 or so words that they say are key words. So we went through all 180 of those and decided how we’re going to say those in English in a way that best relates in a general way to our native people. We weren’t trying to be tribally specific, but more general. And we do have a general way native people today kind of connect together.

Terry (33m 9s):
And, and, you know, we, we, a lot of us read a lot of the same native authors, like black elk and chief Joseph and chief Seattle, and all these early writers where they spoke, where they translated them into English in a way that was very close to our heart languages. And so, so we worked on that together, but also we had beyond our translation council, we also had probably another 30 or 40 more people that over the years that we did this translation of native people from, from native inner varsity, from Cru nations, from other places that we, that became reviewers and would review entire books and they would give feedback.

Terry (33m 57s):
We did this all on Google docs and yeah, sometimes we would run into some differences of opinions on things, but we, we finally settled on what we have and it was not, it was not difficult. We didn’t really have any arguments or anything. We just really tried to think it through and question it and then say, okay, okay, that works because, because of this and, and I loved the experience, I’d love to do it again. That’s very cool. Yeah. So, well, actually, I w I was going to ask you this later, but I’ll ask you now. Cause you said it, do you think you’ll do, you said, you mentioned having done some of this work on the songs, like, do you think you will go back and look at either the entire, which is a big one old Testament or some portions of it?

Terry (34m 46s):
We are praying about the entire old Testament, but w we know at least do some portions of it. Okay. And I thought that might be coming. That would be exciting. Well, so I, the other thing I really did want to ask about, and we’ve kind of hinted at it along the way, is this fraught relationship between Christianity and native peoples within the United States, knowing, as you’ve mentioned, that there’s a history of injustice and oppression, not even just about the fact that there were white colonizers who called themselves Christians who were, you know, doing abusive and oppressive things and taking over land, but specifically in the name of Jesus, in the name of the church for so much of our history.

Terry (35m 34s):
And so I’m, I’m just curious to hear about the ways in which that history impedes the message of the gospel. And also whether this translation is able to speak into that in any way. Yeah. When you take something as beautiful as the gospel, and I, I believe the gospel is a wonderful, beautiful story when it’s understood. And when you force that on somebody With a press in oppressive ways, you destroy the message of it because native people not, they are not just our, traditionally we don’t just listen to the story.

Terry (36m 30s):
We evaluate the storyteller. Fair enough. And if the storyteller isn’t consistent with the story, then we don’t believe the story. Or we, we look at the story differently. And we, we, in some ways we judge the story by the storyteller, right? And so that, so today, you know, some say that less than 5% of our native people are attending church, you know, and, and are choosing to follow Jesus. And that, and that is because of the way this gospel was brought to us, this story was brought to us.

Terry (37m 12s):
And so it, it creates a unique kind of a problem, especially for bringing, it’s been, you know, on this continent about 500 years. And in those 500 years, why, why have so few natives embrace this? And it’s not, as some people think it’s all, because there are a bunch of heathens and they don’t want to believe the truth. No, that’s that misses it at all. Because in the beginning before colonialism got strong and forceful, there were some missionaries that came and brought the message in a good way.

Terry (37m 53s):
And our native people responded in droves early on. It was later as, as the forcefulness came in and as treaties were broken and agreements were broken. And then Christian denominations got involved in all this that has created a lot of the trouble. And, and a lot of the controversy with the gospel, as far as our translation, what we’re hoping for. And we, we’re seeing some success in this. We have stories of people coming, who were against Christianity, who have said, I can believe this now because I can see it differently.

Terry (38m 36s):
And I can, they have to separate colonialism. And the church involvement from the person of who Jesus is, right? No, our native people have always been open to other spiritual ideas from tribe to tribe. We have always shared our spirituality with one another. We never forced it on each other, at least for the most part, we didn’t maybe, maybe somewhere in history, there was a group that did, but, but we openly shared it because we believed that our spiritual ways had value for everybody. And so we were willing to listen to other spiritual ways because maybe creator told them something we need.

Terry (39m 17s):
And so, and so in that way, we hope that the first nation version will represent the story of Jesus without those colonial barriers and wordings and help native people do what we’ve always done is look at another spiritual way in the spiritual values and, and a story and see how it fits our stories and also to see how it fits our lives. And so I’ve got encouragement. We’ve got feedback that shows that we are hitting the mark and it’s being used in that way and making a difference.

Terry (39m 58s):
Yeah. And I think that sense of separating out the colonial, what you were saying before, where it’s like the only way to be a Christian essentially, is to cut your hair and go to this school and wear these clothes right. Where you’re like, actually that has nothing to do with the message of the gospel. And part of the work of this translation is extracting the, the purity, I guess I don’t know what the right word is, but of the essence of this message. And I hope affirming that sense of there’s there are already connections in place, right? And using that language creator and using the language of names that have meanings, there’s a sense of, this is not a discontinuity.

Terry (40m 47s):
This is not burying who you are, so that you can learn this new, better thing, but it’s actually enhancing or adding to, or I’m not sure if those are the right words either, but at least bringing into conversation. What has already been revealed and understood within this spiritual way. And yet also saying, let me tell you about Jesus, because there’s some places where there might be places where they hit up against each other, and there might be other places where it says, oh yeah, I already knew that guy. I just didn’t know him by that name. So I think there’s some great beauty, if we can remember the way that our, our culture is not the same as our, as who Jesus is and what he might mean in our lives.

Terry (41m 36s):
Well, one of the things that really tells you something about our native people is that we have survived this whole season in generations of these assimilation policies and oppressive government programs that have, have tried to assimilate us into there, into the dominant culture. And we’ve, even though it was quite successful, we still have survived and we’re still working to hold onto who we are. And, and many of us have to walk into worlds. Yeah. Well, I’m grateful that you are walking into a world as far as bringing this message, not only to the people that you’ve been called to and gifted to minister to, but also to those of us who, you know, are able to come to the scriptures with new eyes through the work that you’ve done.

Terry (42m 34s):
So thank you for that. All right. We’ll make, which is in diag. Thank you for listening. Hmm. Thank you. Thank you for being here.

Amy Julia (42m 47s):
Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. I’m going to remind you one more time that there’s a giveaway. You can look in the show notes for details or go to any of my social media platforms and check out the post about how you can get your own copy of the first nations version of the new Testament. Highly recommend it. Even if you don’t win the giveaway, I would recommend that this is worth purchasing and having really as a reference for a long, long time. And as always, I’d love for you to share the episode, subscribe to this podcast, give it a rating or review share what you think about what we’re doing over here, because I would love for more people to continue to benefit from these conversations. I love hearing from you all from I get texts and emails, and sometimes like, you know, messages on Facebook or Instagram.

Amy Julia (43m 33s):
When people listen to this podcast, it is such an encouragement to me to hear that you’re listening and engaging. So please reach out if you do have some words of thanks or just something that made you think about or thoughts on the podcast. I also want to say thank you to Jake Hanson for editing the podcast to Amber Beery, my social media coordinator. She is amazing. I’m so grateful for her. And finally, I’m grateful for you. And I do hope and pray that as you go into your day today, you will carry with you. The peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.

We’re giving away a copy of the First Nations Version of the New Testament. To enter, complete the following 2 steps:

  1. Follow Amy Julia Becker on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter.
  2. Share this podcast episode on one of those social media platforms and tag Amy Julia when you share OR find this episode’s post on one of Amy Julia’s social media accounts and comment about why you would like to win this book or tag a friend!

Thank you to IVP for the giveaway. Shipping to continental US addresses only. This giveaway ends on Saturday, December 4, at 11:59 pm EST.

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