When my wife and I lived in Tucson, AZ we had some friends who worked for a missionary organization called Wycliffe Bible Translators. Wycliffe is “an interdenominational nonprofit organization with a stated goal to see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025." https://www.wycliffe.org Our friends were primarily focused on the indigenous people down near Oaxaca, Mexico. They are a remarkable group of people.
One family shared a story with me about their first assignment. The story goes that the husband and wife, along with their young children boarded a bus in Mexico City and traveled south, high up into the mountains to a small isolated town. The bus dropped them off in the center of town at dusk with only their small belongings, each other, and a great deal of faith. No one in the town knew they were coming, they did not speak the language, and they had nowhere to stay. As the sun set, an old man approached and gestured for them to follow. He brought them to his small, one room home where he provided a meal and a place to sleep. And so began their journey. I met them 15 years after that event. They still lived in the village with their five children and continued their work on creating an alphabet and ultimately a translation of the bible into the towns traditional language.
One of the first songs I ever wrote over 20 years ago was called “Obedience”. The words were taken from a poem called “Obedience” by George MacDonald. It is a powerful poem that spoke to me early on in my touring music ministry and honestly, has spoken to me continually throughout my adult life. My first dedication of the song was to the Wycliffe Bible Translators and to their incredible selfless faith and mission. I will say no more. Here it is:
“Obedience” by George MacDonald (1824-1905)
I said: “Let me walk in the fields.” He said: “No, walk in the town.” I said: “There are no flowers there.” He said: “No flowers, but a crown.”
I said: “But the skies are black; There is nothing but noise and din.” And He wept as He sent me back – “There is more,” He said; “there is sin.”
I said: “But the air is thick, And fogs are veiling the sun.” He answered: “Yet souls are sick, And souls in the dark undone!”
I said: “I shall miss the light, And friends will miss me, they say.” He answered: “Choose tonight If I am to miss you or they.”
I pleaded for time to be given. He said: “Is it hard to decide? It will not seem so hard in heaven To have followed the steps of your Guide.”
I cast one look at the fields, Then set my face to the town; He said, “My child, do you yield? Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”
Then into His hand went mine; And into my heart came He; Now I walk in a light divine, The path I had feared to see.
Words by George MacDonald
Music by Jeff Rohlwing
Music © 1998 Jeff Rohlwing