Mary Yusuf is possibly one of the busiest women I have met. While we sit quietly chatting through an interpreter in the corner of the COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) church in the village of Zaron, she tells me of her various roles: housewife and mother of five, farmer, women's worker, Sunday School teacher.
Mary was brought up as a regular church attendee, coming to know Jesus through the Sunday School when she was still a girl. In 1979 she married and just a year later started taking on duties in the church. After years of dedicated service she’s now the women’s leader for a number of churches in the area.
She sits with the first printed draft of John’s Gospel in Ichen, her language, on her lap. “This book has been a very big blessing for me,” she says, explaining how, having studied the Gospel, she was better equipped to lead the women and children. “I taught the prayer cell how to be doing the Lord’s Prayer – such that even the little children in their prayer cell can say the Lord’s Prayer in Ichen very very clear.”
The Gospel in Ichen has helped the older members of the community too. “Often times when they read the Bible in Hausa or other language the translation and the interpretation doesn’t get into them very well. But the moment it is written in the Book, in the translated Book, the oldest elderly people – it will touch them and will bless them”.
Despite her obvious joy of being able to read the Bible in her own language and teach others, there’s sadness in Mary’s eyes too. As we continue to talk her concern for her husband and children rises to the surface.
Speaking of her children she tells me, “As they are coming up to some age where they need to be more dedicated it appears that there [are] some influences attracting them outside the Church.” It’s a tough burden for Mary to bear. She struggles to reconcile the responsibility she has for teaching the children of others in the Sunday School, with her desire to see her family following in God's ways.
From time to time Mary goes without food and dedicates a whole day to praying for her children and her husband, who has also gone away from the faith. “I’m trusting that God will open their eyes one day to come back to the Lord, you know, and derive from the blessings of the word of God”.
That has been her prayer and it is mine too. As we finish the interview, we pray together in the corner of that church in a small village in the heart of Nigeria.
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Phil Prior is the Director of Communications for Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK
在我認識的婦女中，瑪麗（Mary Yusuf）可能是最忙碌的一個。在我們靜靜地坐在鍚朗村（Zaron）尼日利亞基督教會（Church of Christ in Nigeria）一角，透過傳譯員做訪問時，她告訴我她的各種角色：家庭主婦、五個孩子的母親、農婦、工人、主日學導師。
她坐著，膝上放著其語言 —— 伊察語（Ichen）的約翰福音的首份印刷稿。她說：「這書對我來說是極大的祝福。」她繼續解釋如何透過研讀福音書來裝備自己去帶領婦女和兒童，說：「我教祈禱小組學習主禱文 —— 即使祈禱小組裏的年幼孩童，也能清清楚楚地用伊察語背誦主禱文。」