By Bill Francavilla
I firmly believe the Church would be much stronger if everyone took ten minutes out of their day and read a few chapters of the Bible. Over the past several years my love of the Word not only turned into daily reading, it also spawned my Bible collection.
It started when I wanted to compare translations during my Bible study, and before I knew it grew to include a collection of several different interpretations such as the New International Version, New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version, New Living Translation, and even an Orthodox Study Bible.
As my Bible collection increased, I started speaking publicly more often. When I quoted a historical theologian, I wanted to know what translation of the Bible he or she would have read, so I started looking into historical translations as well. I already owned the King James Version, but it wasn’t long before I had a Geneva Bible, a Wycliffe translation, the Wessex Gospels, and even a translation that Noah Webster wrote when he was finished with the dictionary (a personal favorite of mine since I am descended from the Webster family).
As the collection grew, I began studying Hebrew and Greek, so naturally I acquired a Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Septuagint and also Bibles in Latin, Spanish, Italian, Welsh, Catalan, Navajo, Korean, and Esperanto.
This is only a small taste of a much larger collection. What can I say? It’s a strange hobby but I enjoy it. I cite my Bible translations often in my sermons, especially if there is a particularly challenging translation. But every now and then I have wondered if this hobby would be of any use to the Kingdom outside of my Sunday sermons, which makes the following story so special to me.
Not long ago, I was being interviewed about Bible translations on a Christian men’s podcast called Guy Schtuff. I ended the interview by reading the Lord’s prayer from the Hawaiian Pidgin version of the Bible called “Da Jesus Book.” While it may seem like a joke to the untrained ear, it is an actual translation of the Word of God.
About ten minutes after the interview, I dropped off the Bible in my car and walked over to the coffee shop two doors down from our church. As usual, I struck up a conversation with the employees. One lady who was working there always has questions about my job as a pastor, and she happened to be the barista working that day. She is a sweet person and always has a smile, but she very clearly does not share our faith.
Throughout the course of our conversation, she casually mentioned that her mother is from Hawaii. I told her the amazing “coincidence” that I had just read the Lord’s prayer from a Hawaiian Bible. (I love how God works!)
Without a second thought, I retrieved the Hawaiian Bible from my car for her to look through. As she thumbed through it, I could see excitement welling up in her eyes, and she said, “I can actually hear my grandmother saying these words to me.”
A still, small voice told me what to do next. I tried to fight it, but I finally gave in and told the woman that she could keep the Bible. Her next words made it all worth it.
“I am going to read every word from this!” she said.
The following week it was wonderful to see her light up every time I walked in, but within a short time I was informed that she had quit her job at the shop to pursue a new career.
I may never see her again, but I pray that this Bible brings her joy and the relationship with our God that so many are looking for. I will pray Romans 10:13 over her:
Cuz da Bible say, “Everybody dat aks da Boss fo help um, he goin take um outa da bad kine stuff dey doing”
(Fo Da Rome Peopo 10:13, Hawai’i Pidgin).
[For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13, NLT).]
About the Author
Bill Francavilla is the lead pastor at Living Hope, an Open Bible church in Williamsburg, Virginia. Having lived in Virginia nearly his entire life, he attended Lynchburg College, where he studied history and theater. In 2017 Bill received his master’s degree in theological studies from Liberty University. He has been active in missions to Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba. He and his wife, Jessica, have four children: Alex, Liam, Rita Grace, and Gino.