Madagascar: Lost – and Found – in Translation
The famous explorer Marco Polo set out from Venice in 1271 AD to explore the East, returning more than twenty years later to chronicle his many travels in A Description of the World, published sometime around 1300. In his writings, Polo described a rich African island he called “Madeigascar,” his attempted transliteration of the name Mogadishu, the port city in Somalia – not at all the same place! The adventurer’s confusion spread to European cartographers, who mislabeled the island on their maps with Polo’s version of a different place’s name, and so it is known to this day as “Madagascar.”
Centuries later, in 1818, three missionaries from the London Missionary Society (of which the notable Dr. David Livingstone was a member) – James Cameron, David Jones, and David Griffith – came to Madagascar to spread the gospel, build schools, and introduce the people to new inventions. Jones and Griffith translated Scripture into Malagasy, the native tongue, and Cameron oversaw the installation of the first printing press on the island. Their combined efforts produced the first Bible ever published in an African language.
In my spare time I enjoy drawing and painting, dabbling in music and writing, reading, and spending time with friends. I’m an only child and don’t live very close to many relatives, but I’ve been blessed with a number of close friendships here in Indiana, and there are always opportunities to travel and see extended family. I commute to WMP each day from Winona Lake, where World Missionary Press began and where I attended college while commuting from home in New Paris.
WMP Partners Around the World
Dennis G., Distributor in China
Since 2006, WMP has provided 432 ten-pound boxes of Scripture booklets for Dennis and his teams from the U.S. to distribute in China. Two pallets of literature will soon be produced and shipped to a storage/distribution facility in Hong Kong to help keep teams supplied.
WMP: Please describe your background and current ministry.
Dennis: I began gospel literature distribution in China about ten years ago. Our focus has been on unreached people groups. Over the years we have used WMP booklets to reach Chinese, Mongolian, Muslim, and Buddhist cities, towns, and villages across China. I would estimate that we’ve distributed several tons of literature in areas that had never heard a clear presentation of the gospel.
Dennis: Having access to good, free gospel literature has been essential to fulfilling our mission of reaching the vast areas we focus on. This year alone we hope to take as many as four or five teams to China. Each team works for as long as a month to see that unreached areas hear the gospel message. I honestly don’t know how we would do what we do if it weren’t for the help we get from WMP.
Our supplies from WMP are used immediately. We order just enough to cover the needs of the teams on the field at that given time. We are currently obtaining a large shipment (384 boxes) from WMP that we hope will greatly meet the needs of our teams for a number of months.
WMP: What challenges do you face in the free and open distribution of WMP literature?
Dennis: Since the open spread of the gospel is not possible in our target country (China), our work is done during the night hours. We have been able to saturate areas with the Good News. A partner missionary on the ground in China is able to follow up when the teams have completed their work.
WMP: How would you describe the effectiveness of the topical Scripture booklets?
Dennis: It is an awesome thing to see people standing on the street or at the door of their business or home, reading the literature they find in the morning as they begin their day. This is by no means an unusual occurrence. In the mornings after we work the street in areas near schools, we often see young children sharing the gospel booklets they find with their friends. These booklets are read in China!
We work in areas where we often don’t know of any established churches. These are truly unreached areas. Often these booklets are the first seed sown in these areas. Thank you for your prayers for us as we work in China. We are very thankful for the help we receive from WMP to get the job done.
We continue to stand in awe of all God has been doing at World Missionary Press. Now that new (for us) equipment is in place and operational, we are experiencing the greatly increased potential for production we anticipated. The six-color press and direct-to-plate equipment give much-needed flexibility in scheduling production of covers; and wow, can that press produce! The Pivano cover cutter is running like a champ, turning large press sheets into bindery-size sheets. The Osako bindery and our newest piece of equipment, the Palamides stacker/bundler, give greater efficiency and higher speed when binding and boxing Scripture booklets. What a blessing it was, as we zoomed through more than 9 million Help From Above-size equivalency on our binderies during the month of January! Praise the Lord!
The challenge now is to make use of this new production capacity to meet the urgent high demand for Scripture booklets throughout the world. Our operating budget for this fiscal year allows for production of 7.5 million booklets per month on average – but the need is for so much more! Would you join with us, fervently seeking the Lord for a significant increase in income – so we can bump that monthly average up to 9 million or more? The need is great. Distributors in countries around the world are crying out for more of God’s eternal life-giving Word, and our time is short. Because of economy of operation, WMP Treasurer Marie Mack calculates it will cost $45,000 per month over budget to increase from a monthly average of 7.5 to 9 million (only about 3 cents per additional booklet for both production and shipping).
Thank you so much for your faithful support for World Missionary Press! We greatly appreciate your prayers, all the time freely given each month by hundreds of volunteer workers, and the funds donated to the work of the Lord. We praise the Lord for you!
A long-time WMP supporter and distributor writes,
“Be encouraged and press on in this life-giving eternal work. Praise God for increases in output of Scripture booklets and Bible studies and all other food for the soul. Your improvements/changes in packaging the Scripture booklets [Palamides bundles] are making a difference in their condition upon arrival. The paper banding of bundles within the boxes helps keep them from moving and becoming bent and folded-over…. The new glossy color cover on Who Am I That A King Would Die In My Place? is outstanding.”
What a blessing to serve the King of kings in such a meaningful way!