U for You

24 06 2013

Lee, a translator to the Hdi people of Cameroon, searched for a word in their language that was representative of God’s love for us. Verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels, i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?

Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, mostly influential leaders in the community, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said.  That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone. “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said.  That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions.  She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.  “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?”  Everyone laughed.  “Of course not!  If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, or never made you meals.  Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her.  No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.”

Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?” There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men.  Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love.  He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”


Bob Creson

President, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA



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