You can help Fébia Gonçalves make disciples of all ages in Timor Leste.
“Jesus gave orders to the impure spirits and they obeyed him.” When we read these words from Mark chapter 1, Brigida wept. “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!”
This was Brigida’s first time in my Bible study group. She was keen to learn more about Jesus. To appease the spirits, Brigida’s family wanted to conduct rituals with her father’s bones. Now, Brigida was confident that this was not necessary. Only Jesus has authority over death. Only Jesus saves.
My name is Fébia Gonçalves. When I was younger, like Brigida, I did not know that only Jesus can save us. I thought I would enter heaven because I went to church each Sunday, gave offerings and did what seemed right.
In Timor Leste, people find it difficult to accept that Jesus is the only way to God. At Easter we remember that Jesus died for our sins. But on the Day of the Dead, many people also pray to the deceased. Some walk a long way to visit the graves in the mountains. They believe you can ask the ancestral spirits for help, wisdom and atonement. Everyone knows about Jesus, but most worship spirits as well. Sadly, even some church leaders say that, either way, we will all end up in heaven anyway!
This is not surprising because we still do not have the whole Bible in our language. People commonly access God’s word in Tetun by listening to the teaching at church. Preachers who cannot read the Bible in Portuguese, English or Indonesian can only repeat what they have heard, or what they think they have heard. Without the Bible in our language we cannot test or confirm what we hear.
Ten years ago, some missionaries came from Indonesia and told me the good news. For the first time, I learned that it is not because of my good works but through the saving work of Jesus that I am saved. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. It is a gift from God.” Now, I hold fast to this truth. My faith and trust in Jesus grows as I read and study the Bible in Portuguese, Indonesian and English.
On the move
While we wait for the whole Bible to become available in Tetun, I work with Scripture Union in Dili to produce Bible teaching resources in our language. SparkLit helped us print a Tetun edition of The Big Picture Story Bible. Now we are translating The Gospel Story Bible. I really like this book! I love the way the questions and illustrations help young people see Jesus in the whole Bible. Translating this book from English is challenging. We also have to translate the Bible passages ourselves. We edit the text again and again to eliminate mistakes and make it clear and easy to read. We must handle God’s word with care. It is a great responsibility. Will you continue to help us publish Christian books in our language?
Please pray that I will stand firm in the truth of God’s word, loving the Lord Jesus and sharing the good news with others.
Fébia Gonçalves is a lawyer in Dili.