Learning a language can be an interesting experience. One of the hardest things I ever had to do in the mission field was to learn the language of the people. I was always afraid to be in a mission area with a foreign language, but when I moved to the Marshall Islands, I decided that learning the language was an important skill that I should develop for ministry. I didn't realize that six months of learning the language would also make me more comfortable and a more confident pastor in front of the Marshallese people.
Over nine years, I have spent most of my time in the outer islands of the Marshall Islands, working with people and learning their culture. My wife, Rubie Joy, adapted easily to living among the people, and together we helped their Christian life, provided encouragement, gave Bible studies, wrote sermons, and translated small tracts into the Marshallese language. The ministry has taken me to Namu Namu, Namu Majikin, and Woja Ailiñlaplap, and currently to Ebeye.
It was to Ebeye that I was returning on March 11, 2020, when I was stopped on Guam. I was on a return flight from the Philippines after attending my graduation ceremony at AIIAS (Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies) when I discovered that flights to the Marshall Islands were cancelled because of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. I was not sure how long I would be separated from my wife and young daughter on Ebeye. Things were not easy for me, but God was teaching me to be patient. A few weeks passed on Guam before I approached the Guam-Micronesia Mission. I asked how I could offer my time while waiting for the COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted. GMM put me on a mission to translate the Voice of Prophecy Bible studies into the Marshallese language.
I have a great desire to translate these lessons into Marshallese, and I am happy that GMM shares the same conviction for this project. I believe that God can use gospel tracts to save His people in this world. Even a small translation from a piece of paper can be used to make big changes in a person’s life. I believe that gospel tracts contain the word of God and are living seeds.
Translating the VOP Bible studies into Marshallese has also been a very interesting challenge for me, because it is not easy translating from your second language – English – into your third language – Marshallese – which poses additional challenges in pronunciation. I am thankful that God brought me to a place like Guam at a time like this where I can focus on this kind of work.
I am currently translating Lesson Number 20 and I imagine finishing the entire series of 26 studies soon. It's an amazing feeling to be used by God in any situation. It is also a wonderful feeling to know that what you are able to achieve is not for yourself, but for the goal of helping other people in their walk with God.
Note: The Voice of Prophecy Bible lessons are available online for free at www.myislandbiblestudy.com. While Pastor Suhot continues to translate the Voice of Prophecy Bible studies into Marshallese, others are working on translating the studies into Palauan. The goal is to complete translations in other Micronesian languages including Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, and Kosraean.