Once upon a time there was a faithful man named Philip. Philip loved God very much and spent his life serving and sharing the “Good News” in the foreign country of Zamzam. Zamzam was a lovely place, and the people were even more lovely. Philip spent many years traveling all over Zamzam telling people about Jesus and the great love of the Creator God for all people including them! The people of Zamzam embraced this message enthusiastically, and the Good News began to spread.
One day while at prayer Philip felt that God was prompting him to have the Bible translated into Zamic – the native language of the folks of Zamzam. “How wonderful it would be for these people to have the story of God in their own language!” With that, he began a letter writing campaign to his supporters and various organizations seeking financial support for this Bible translation project.
He received envelopes from all around the world with cheques, money orders and bank drafts for amounts both big and small. Philip was so grateful for all the support and gave thanks to God for both large and small gifts alike. In almost no time at all, the entire amount was raised for the translation project.
One day, the skies grew dark, the wind began to howl, and the skies opened up in a torrent of rain. For two days, his town was pounded by Mother Nature with severe wind and rain. On the morning of the third day, the inclement weather relented and people emerged to survey the damage. The violent weather had ravaged their already ripe and ready for harvest food crop; the very staple of the Zamzam people's diet. The people were distraught, and fear of starvation began to spread. Philip recognizing the need for food and emergency care withdrew the money that was collected for the translation project and bought food and medicine for the people of the town. The people were fed and healthy.
With all the money he raised for the translation project spent on food and medicine; Philip was again in prayer. He felt again as if the Lord was calling him to have the Bible translated into the native language of the people he loved and served. With that, Philip began another letter writing campaign and while on furlough he traveled the West raising support for the Bible translation project. With each gift, large or small he gave thanks to God. By the end of his furlough, he had enough money raised and could begin the Bible translation project.
Upon his return to Zamzam, Philip was greeted with the news of an epidemic in a town in the northern region of the country, a region he had spent many months in serving the people. There was a crisis because there was no money to buy the medication to cure the plague that was ravaging the population. Philip was aware of the money in his pocket that he collected for the translation project. He went to the local health authorities and purchased a large supply of the medication that would cure the people in this northern town. Without haste, he delivered the medication to the town and people began to recover. The epidemic was over.
In prayer one day, Philip felt once again that he was to raise fund to have the Bible translated into Zamic, the native language of the people in Zamzam. He set to work writing letters, visiting people and communities that could financially help with this project. In the course of 13 months, Philip had all the money he required for the translation project. The work began, and soon after the project was complete. The Bible had been translated into Zamic, and copies were being distributed all over the country. The people of Zamzam were delighted!
When this story is told to the children of Zamzam, it is said that Philip had provided three translations of the Bible, and the first two were the best!
(This story is an adaptation of a story told by Anthony DeMello, SJ.)
Are there times when our commendable religious projects, practices, and duties are contrary to "real religion"?
Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. ~ James 1:27 (MSG)