Kingdom Women: My Inspiring Mom by Meadow Rue Merrill
Throughout the this year I will post an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor. We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus. Today we meet a current servant of God through the eyes of her daughter.
Many inspirational women I’ve met between the pages of books—heroic Christian missionaries who long ago traded their dreams for God’s. But the one who has influenced me most isn’t on a shelf.
She’s more likely at her computer, Skyping with a team member in Central Asia about which indigenous word to use in translating a book of the Bible. Or illustrating a brochure about the 180 million people still waiting for the Bible in their own language. Or winding down a New England road in her second-hand station wagon on her way to speak at a church.She is my mom. And although I can’t share her name because of the sensitive nature of her work, she is a linguist and Bible translator bringing the Good News of God’s great love to people who can’t yet read it in their own language.
According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, almost 7,000 languages are spoken around the globe today. An estimated 1,800 lack any translation of the Bible. Another 2,200—including the one assigned to my mom—are currently undergoing translation.
The need for Bible translation is huge. By 2025, Wycliffe and other organizations hope to begin translating the Bible into every remaining language. (https://www.wycliffe.org/about/why)
That’s going to take a lot of people.
Thankfully, to bring about his global plan of Salvation, God doesn’t use the most likely people. He uses willing people. Like my mom—a Connecticut debutante who dropped out of college during the smoke-hazed days of the hippie movement to head west.
In Berkley, while studying Balinese dancing, she met my dad, married, had my brother and me, bought an Oregon farm, and divorced. So there she was, a single, anti-church, organic sheep farmer with two kids, studying the American mystic Edgar Cayce when she began reading the Bible.
As if to demonstrate the enormous impact of Scripture, those ancient words drew my mom into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Compelled to learn more, she ventured through the doors of a country church down the road from our house and surrendered her life to God.
A few years later, Wycliffe Bible translator Marilyn Laszlo came to speak at our church. This great missionary spent years in Papua New Guinea decoding a local language in order to transcribe the Bible for those who spoke it. After two weeks of special meetings, our pastor invited those who felt called to missions to come forward for prayer.
Mom did. With one hesitation.
“I couldn’t believe that God would call me to a life of camping,” she later admitted. “I loved camping.”
Yet isn’t that how God works? Our deepest passions are often barely kindling fires waiting to be ignited by the Holy Spirit. Soon Mom sold her beloved farm, moved us to Maine to care for her dying mother, volunteered for one year in northern Australia with Wycliffe, and eventually sold her dream home and spent her inheritance to pursue a master’s of divinity degree to become a full-time translator.
For more than a decade now, she’s been building two indigenous translations teams—often camping on floors in rural villages of a remote and rugged land. While there she has baptized new believers and shared the Gospel with Muslim and Jewish people waiting to read God’s words in their related languages.
After beginning to correct an earlier, unpublished translation of a book from the New Testament, she and her two teams switched to translating several Old Testament books that point to the Messiah. One is complete, as is a dubbing of a full-length film of Genesis.
The work is hard, funding scarce, and physical and spiritual obstacles abound. Yet, my mom continues working to open the door of faith for those who would believe. Her name may never appear in a book, but because of God’s grace and her willingness to serve, others will have theirs added to the Lamb’s Book of Life forever.
That’s the greatest inspiration of all.
“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said,” I Corinthians 15:3 NLT.
Who in your life is waiting to hear the Good News of God’s love? And what are you willing to do to share it?