Update and Prayer Requests: June 2023
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
Nicasio was invited to give a presentation on June 14 to a group of Bible translators (foreigners, Mexicans and speakers of indigenous languages) and he decided to share about the effects of studying the Bible in one’s own language. He told how he had started a Bible study at church more than 20 years ago, but it wasn’t considered a “real” church service because people sat in a circle and no offering was taken. That went on a few years and then petered out. Then 15 years ago, our pastor suggested that our church have a service all in Zapotec. Nicasio was asked to lead it and this service was seen as more “real” because people sat in rows, there was an offering taken, and a Zapotec worship team was formed, making it more official. This is the service that we are still having, all in Quiatoni Zapotec.
Nicasio then asked Beto to share about the effects of studying God’s Word in their own language. He told how that encourages people to listen, participate and ask questions. He also told how when he is home with his wife and daughters, they continue talking about what we have studied in Zapotec. He said that it’s easier to share the Gospel with others now because they have the vocabulary in Zapotec and don’t have to struggle with how to explain things. He told how one lady has said that because of studying in Zapotec, she knows now that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Another lady said how she now understands what baptism means and would like to be baptized again, since she really understands it now.
The director of the meeting thanked them for sharing, and thanked Nicasio for sharing the things that didn’t work as well as those that do. Many others thanked them later for sharing; we hope that God will use this to encourage others to do interactive Bible studies, using their New Testament translations.
Nicasio had gotten sick a couple of days before the presentation but felt well enough to do it. But that evening he wasn’t feeling well again. The next day I came down with it. It’s been two weeks for Nicasio and about 10 days for me and we are still not back to normal yet, especially in our energy levels. We’d appreciate your prayers for us to feel better again.
Last Saturday (June 24) was our third class with the Quiatoni pastors and church leaders. The town where we were to meet is at a lower elevation than most of the Quiatoni area and where we live, so it’s almost always hotter and more humid. I was dreading the day there since it’s been so hot and humid at home but God is gracious: it had been raining there since Friday and was much cooler than we had anticipated. We were so thankful!
We are so encouraged by the pastors’ and leaders’ interest and participation. Thank you for praying!
As part of the introduction, Nicasio asked, “Why do we need to read and write in Zapotec? Several answered along the lines of, “We can understand the Bible better in Zapotec and it helps us preach better and to know what the Bible is really saying.” One added, “It’s a tool we can use; we need to have our tools ready al the time. We need to sharpen our machetes so they are ready for use.”
Beto shared more on how to use the 10 Commandants to give the bad news that we are all sinners and then to give the Good News that Jesus came to die for our sins. He put everyone in pairs to practice it. After that, Nicasio said, “OK, you’re all ready now to have your evangelistic campaigns!” Florencio, one of the pastors, said, “No, not yet! This is only the third class!” (out of the four that they had planned.) This is quite a change in attitude from when they first approached Nicasio about helping them with strategies for holding evangelistic campaigns! Then they were wanting to fill their churches and now they are seeing the need to make sure that each person understands the Gospel.
Candy shared on how to pray and why pray in Zapotec. (Even though she always says she is very nervous, she doesn’t show it and always does a great job. Imagine Candy, who went to school through 6th grade—and even Beto, who just finished his bachelor’s last year—teaching the pastors! Of course, most of the pastors don’t have much education, either, but they are very respected because they are pastors.) After she finished teaching about prayer, Nicasio said, “You might be wondering why we’re studying this, since we should already know this.” Florencio burst out with, “But we don’t!”
Beto gave them homework: Witness to at least one person before our next meeting. Nicasio added that it could be someone in their church. A pastor said, “Yes! Because not everyone who attends church understands salvation.”
At the end, Florencio thanked Nicasio, Beto and Candy for coming to teach them. Then he prayed all in Zapotec, just as if God were standing there listening to him. It was beautiful!
On the way home (two hours to cover about 60 miles on paved roads), the truck started acting up. Even though we were driving home earlier than usual, no mechanics were open, probably due to it being Saturday evening. Nicasio said that we might as well drive on home and we are thankful that we made it and nothing seems to be worse. He took the truck to the mechanic this morning but he was too busy, so he’ll take it tomorrow morning. We are hoping it’s nothing major.
Two more quick notes: 1. Beto and Candy’s older daughter graduated from high school and will be attending college in the fall. We are so proud of them all! 2. Mike and Tara have asked me (Valerie) to drive to Mexico with them when they move here, some time in July. We would appreciate your prayers for preparations and the trip.
Thank you for your interest, support and prayers—all of which are giving the Quiatoni people God’s Word in the language they understand best!
love, Valerie and Nicasio