The Chamulas
Tomorrow begins TODAY - Dr. Harold J. Sala () - February 10, 2002 - 12:00am
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When Bible translators Ken and Elaine ordered 500 copies of their Chamula New Testament for distribution on the day it was officially dedicated, they thought there would be more than enough copies for distribution. To their surprise more than 3,000 people showed up, all wanting copies. Though the Summer Institute of Linguistics had translated hundreds of New Testaments or portions of Scripture in a native tongue, none held quite the challenge as that which confronted Ken and Elaine Jacobs when they set out to live among the Chamulas in Mexico.

As the Word of God was translated and the Chamulas began to grasp the meaning of the Good News, their lives began to change. Three things happened: The people stopped drinking posh, a sugar cane rum, which almost always led to intoxication. Men stopped beating their wives and began to treat them with kindness and affection–which was viewed by other Chamula men as a sign of weakness. And dishonesty was set aside as believers began telling the truth.

It was the changed lives of the Chamula believers that so impressed friends and neighbors. Long ago, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and explained that when a person is in Christ, he is a new person and old things pass away and everything becomes new (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

In spite of the persecution and hardship which many Chamulas experienced, their lifestyles, family relationships and their integrity were changed. No, the men and women who believed were not transformed into plaster saints who made no mistake. Some fell back into the habits they had grown up with; a few thought the price was too great and went back to their pagan ways. But for the most part, as they came to understand how God wanted them to live, no matter what the cost, they committed themselves to follow the Lord.

One of the things which deeply disturbs me about people who occasionally go to church and therefore consider themselves to be believers is this: their lifestyles are no different from those who make no pretense about believing in God.

From the days of the Early Church to the present, a characteristic of those whose lives have been touched by God is not that they are perfect, but that they are different. They become overcomers.

The Chamulas have taken to heart what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody" (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12). Who indeed can fault that kind of a changed life?

Resource Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

AS THE WORD OF GOD CHAMULA CHAMULA NEW TESTAMENT CHAMULAS EARLY CHURCH GOOD NEWS KEN AND ELAINE KEN AND ELAINE JACOBS NEW TESTAMENTS RESOURCE READING THOUGH THE SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS
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