Imagine an island 2.5 times greater than the UK where the majority of the population cannot understand the language the Bible is written in. That island is Madagascar, where Serving in Mission worker Debbie Simpson spent 10 weeks working with a translation team in Mandritsara to make Luke’s Gospel available to the Tsimihety people in their own language.
Debbie recalls: “Many of my Tsimihety Christian friends didn’t know the word rainbow was in the Bible because the Malagasy Bible was not available in their mother tongue.
“So, I’d ask them, ‘Will you pray about it? ‘The next time you see a rainbow in the sky, will you pray that one day the Tsimihety will have a translation of the Bible that they understand?’”
In 2016, as she was preparing to leave Madagascar, Debbie met Leoni Bouwer, who was working in Bible translation.
“When Leoni asked me, ‘Will you pray about it?’ I was caught completely off guard, but promised I’d pray about whether or not the Lord was calling me to the work of Bible translation with the Tsimihety people,” recalls Debbie.
Once back home in Northern Ireland, Debbie prayed for wisdom and discernment — alongside her church, SIM prayer groups and supporters — as she sought the Lord’s will for her future.
“As we prayed, it became clear that the work of Bible translation in Madagascar was something I should pursue,” says Debbie. “Reassured of the prayers of friends, family and many SIM supporters, I eventually returned.”
But with a background in science, linguistic ministry was new to Debbie and well outside her comfort zone.
“I struggle with aspects of the work and there are times when I long to crawl back into what I am more comfortable with,” she admits.
“However, I’m convinced this is where I should be at this time.
“Therefore, I’m deeply grateful for the prayers, support and the continued interest of all of those who encourage me and pray for the work here in Madagascar.
“I know that this ministry is not mine alone — it’s also the ministry of all those who pray and support me, partnering with me in this. They are the ones who answer a resounding ‘Yes!’ when I ask them, ‘Will you pray about it?’”
Pray for everyone involved in the Luke translation project.
Give thanks that the Tsimihety team has finished a first draft of Luke’s Gospel.
Give thanks for the prayer warriors who partner and support Debbie in her ministry.
By Kerry Allan