By Ignacio Magangat, Bible Translator for the Majukayongs
I was born at a time when foreign priests were so intent in Christianizing tribal people by baptizing them. So at only 8 days old, my parents brought me to the priests for Baptism. My parents said that was the first and the last they went to Church. However, in their thinking and in the minds of those who were baptized before me, I was made a Christian, nothing less and nothing more. But when a crisis comes such as sickness, my parents would not go to the priest for advice. They have a high priest at home that can consult the spirits who causes sickness. And she is my grandmother. She was a spirit medium. The spirit would demand our chickens and pigs and my old grandmother would sacrifice them to satisfy their demands so that they can remove our sickness. The spirits does not only cause and remove sickness, they can also determine our future, whom to marry, where, when and how to build a house and would also give fertility to our wives so they can bear many offspring. In short, they control our lives, and we live in fear.
To make the story short, two lady Bible translators came to live among us to translate the Word of God into our native Language. (At first we did not then understand why they came. So people thought, they came to steal our language and sell it back home for a profit. Others thought they came looking for Japanese treasures. And others thought they came looking for a husband due to the shortage of American men because of the Vietnam War. But Balangao hospitality far outweighs our ignorance of their coming, so we served them our tribal rice and exotic tribal delicacies.) After years of trials and hard labor, they were able to translate and print some books of the New Testament.
And then Bible readings and discussions were held in our tribal homes. That was the time many Balangaos came to know the Lord and were liberated from the powers of the evil one. My parents and my siblings were among them. (If you were a Balangao freed from the powers of the evil one, then you would know the JOY that my family and my neighbors felt.) At the height of our liberation from the grip of the evil one when ‘The Word Came With Power’ and began to change a tribal people forever, I was then away from our tribe in the hope of finding a job in the lowlands so I can support my way to school. It was also during those times that my family and family friends fervently prayed for me to also come to know the Lord wherever I am.
In the province where I was, I befriended a missionary from the Southern Baptist Convention. I had thought they were also like the good Americans back in our tribe. To make the story short after much ado, he led me into prayer accepting Christ as my Savior and Lord. During our school break I decided to go home to tell my parents and siblings the Good News and the joy I felt. But before I do, I was hearing stories how they came to know the Lord from hearing the Word of God read and discussed in our language and of their prayers that I too may come to know the Lord.
To make the story a little shorter, I was led to join a committee of reviewers to review the Balangao Translation before it goes to the press. In the process of working as a reviewer, I have witnessed first-hand hardened spirit mediums coming to know the Lord because they were hearing God’s Word in a language they can understand.
After the Dedication of our Balangao New Testament, the Lord had been impressing on me that, “It would be so unfair for me to go on rejoicing for my new-found faith while we still have other tribal people who do not have what we have.” Then the Lord led me to accompany two members from the Summer Institute of Linguistics to do a language survey to Majukayong, one of our neighboring tribe in the mountains. This was a small group but they have produced many Anglican Priests. During this survey, it happened that this tribe was in tribal war with another tribe. They had just incurred three victims all of them were educated professionals. In revenge tribal killings, if at all possible, they want to kill the VIP’s (very important people) so as to incur much pain among their tribal enemy. In revenge, they also killed more people from among their tribal enemy. Yet they said the number of people they killed is nothing compared to their three educated ones. So they think they were still the loser.
One evening as we took notes of their language and compare it to other tribes whose languages were similar to them, I asked an entirely different question to an old man sitting next to me. I said, “Why is it that you have many priests who holds masses every Sunday and teach you God’s Word, but you are still killing one another? Is this the way to love your own neighbor?” The old man cleared his throat and said, “Ummaliyak ad Barangow ey nijuga assey usa ey nan-ad-adaranyu assey Gingan Apudyus. Ambaru an dakayu tey ma-awatanyu sey apporow mitudtuju tey niigga sey Gingan Apudyus assey kuwayu ey ginga. Kon an dakani ey, niippon kuwani as juganji.” (“I came to Balangaoiparuvus sey Apu, umaliyak.” (“God willing, I will come.”)
After some years of training, God brought me there. After we were settled down as a family and were about to begin translation, a clan war broke up so I have to get my family and move back to Balangao. Then in 2002 with the help of TSC, we went in again, but this time we decided to put up our working place at Down River Majukayong. Now, through the years, through God’s Grace and mercy, we were able to translate and print some portions of the New Testament into Majukayong. Then in seven Majukayong villages, we organized a reading class. We call it ‘Reading Class’ in order to be more inclusive of anyone who wants to join the reading.
Tom’s car who delivered our printed Acts, James
and 1,2,and 3 John got stuck on the mud
and 1,2,and 3 John got stuck on the mud
One special bonus from God for our Translation Ministry in Majukayong was one of our translation helper, Russel Laguinday who lives in a village 5 kilometers north of our working place in Majukayong. Being so much younger than I am, I call him ‘amonakon’ nephew, and he calls me ‘ulitog’ uncle. When we began working together, his family and his parents were the only Christians in their village. And whenever we were dismissed for the day he would print out some copies of our draft and bring it home and invite some of his neighbors to just read our Translation for the day to further test the naturalness of our translation. He said it would usually lead their readings into discussions and to further study the Bible. It was very informal. No preaching, just reading, discussion, reading, discussions and question-and-answer. Over the three-year period, there were those who believed and were added to their group. Later, they put up a little structure and called it their church building. Then in August of 2005, elders from a bigger church next town went there and laid their hands on him in prayer and commissioned him to pastor that small church.
Later, I was invited again to share from God’s Word not to a reading class but to a group of new believers. We discussed varied topics such as being born again into God’s family, Baptism and many more. After our discussion session, new believers expressed their desire to follow the Lord in the Believers Baptism. (Since it was December and it was very cool, they scheduled it for the coming summer.) True to their word, we were again invited to witness their first ever Baptismal Service. I just can’t restrain the balls of tears falling down my face as I took our MTT’s picture, now evolved as pastor baptizing the new believers. It was just so wonderful to behold.
After that wonderful Sunday, our youngest son, Ephraim and I began to hike back home in the cool of the day. As we hiked back home, I began to replay in my mind what has transpired during the day among the new-breed of believers and then I kept thanking the Lord for His wonderful goodness and love and for calling me into this wonderful ministry of putting His Word into Majukayong, our Balangao tribal neighbor. Then all of a sudden, I realized, I was in deep meditation on Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 1:26 – 30.
(New Century Version)
26 Brothers and sisters, look at what you were when God called you. Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges’ wisdom. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose what the world thinks is unimportant and what the world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29 God did this so that no one can brag in his presence. 30 Because of God you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God.
At that moment in time, I found myself looking back from the present towards the fleeing past. I was then a backward tribal person under the power of the evil one. I was then the barbarian, the descendant of a tribal headhunter. I was the nonsense and the weak from an inferior village. I was the despised, the lowly, and more so, I was once hell ward bound! But then God has also chosen me to also believe and trust in Him from out of the Millions because someone from far-away lands decided to invest her life in putting God’s Word into my heart language so that I can understand God’s message of love and accept His free gift of Salvation. Now, His Word came with power and has transformed the nonsense, the weak, the despised and the lowly forever to become members of His eternal wonderful family. Now, I am heaven bound. Now, I find myself speechless - for how can I say thanks for the good things the Lord of the Universe has done for me? Not even the voices of the million angels could express my gratitude. Now, I stand amazed as I personally watch the ripples of His wonderful love and goodness through His Word going before us. Now, the ripples have gone far beyond our Balangao tribe. To God Be the Glory for the things He has done!….
The Magangat family - standing from left to right:
Stephen, Titus, Kimberly Ruth, Ephraim and Timothy
Majukayong and Family update and prayer request:
1) We still have 4 books left to work with to complete the Majukayong New Testament; these are 1 and 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Peter. For 1 and 2 Corinthians, we only need to do more community checking then prepare it for Consultant Checking. Pray that we will finish the Majukayong New Testament so I can be of more help to our Balangao OT Translators.
2) Our daughter Kim finished her BS Biology degree. Now she plans to join TAP (Translators Association of the Philippines, Inc.) or Wycliffe Philippines and plans to be a literacy worker in Africa, God willing. Pray for God’s direction in her life.
3) Our eldest son Stephen got married last Sept. 10 and is now working as an Instructor for Criminology Students in the Bicol College. Pray that God would always remind him of the things he learned from us and always stands up for his faith.
4) Tim, our second son is also now working in Manila. Pray for God’s blessing in his life and in his work as Bank Building Inspector for LBP (Land Bank of the Phil.) so that he can also be of help in the Balangao OT Translation Project.
5) Titus and Ephraim are still in college. Pray also not only for their daily school needs but that they may truly learn well and also be a good Christian Witness among their co-students. (Titus hopes to graduate this school year.)
6) Finding financial partners in a 3rd world country is always a struggle and more so for us in the Tribe. Pray that God would send us more partners knowing that we cannot do it alone.
Thanks Ignacio for sharing your testimonial. Pray for him and his family for protection and health during the final stages of the translation.