Today, 9 August, is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
This Second International Decade, from 2005 – 2015, has the theme: A Decade for Action and Dignity. “This theme highlights the need for preservation and revitalization of indigenous cultures, including their art and intellectual property. . . It is also a reminder of the responsibility of individuals as consumers, to understand that there is a story and a personal experience behind every piece of cloth, textile or artwork from an indigenous individual or community.” (http://www.un.org/en/events/indigenousday)
What is more central to any culture than its language?
Through our work of developing alphabets for previously unwritten minority languages, we are at the forefront of helping to preserve indigenous cultures. And by helping literacy gain a foothold in these marginalized language groups, we are handing them a key to survival in this fast-changing world.
But, even more important, by helping them to translate God’s Word into their own mother tongue, you and I are opening the door to true “revitalization of indigenous cultures.” People everywhere understand Jesus’ life, love, and sacrifice clearly, only when the Story is told in the language they know best—their own.
Let’s continue to work for “action and dignity,” not just for this decade, but until all have heard! After all, they have waited long enough to hear God speak, in the language of their hearts.