Ezra Jungle is a Malango elder who took on the challenge of translating the book of Jonah. When he was asked to preach in his local church one Sunday morning, he decided to preach from his draft translation of Jonah chapter four.
First, however, he read it from an English translation—the language the Malango have been accustomed to hearing and reading in church. As he read, kids chattered and other background noise filled the sanctuary.
Then Ezra read the passage in Malango. The room fell silent.
“Everyone quieted right down,” says Andrew Van Andel, “from the smallest kids to the old folks sitting there. They were all listening intently all the way through the chapter.”
The chapter recounts an argument between God and Jonah, about Jonah’s anger when God decided to show mercy to the people of Nineveh.
At one point, God asks Jonah what right he has to feel angry. Jonah’s response: “I’m angry enough to die.”
“When he read that in Malango,” Andrew says, “some people laughed and a few even gasped.”
After the service ended, a few church members approached Ezra and asked, “Did that really happen? Did Jonah say something like that to God?”
Ezra assured them that those were indeed Jonah’s words. The church members were surprised that people in the Bible would display the same kind of emotions they have.
“The consensus seemed to be, 'Wow—even biblical characters can get angry, just like us,'” Andrew recalls.
“It was another sign that they’re connecting with the translated Scriptures on a much deeper level and they are becoming much more personal.”