This article was originally published on 1st March 2014 edition of ITMI Monthly.
“… I feel that this Person really knows me – because He is speaking my language.”
Not many will know him by his official name or by his given name.
But Frederick III, Elector of Saxony was a hero.
Born in Torgau, Saxony (Germany) during the Renaissance period in 1463 to a powerful family that was very well connected to the Holy Roman Empire. Eventually he became second in authority to Emperor Maximilian.
The glowing words of Hieko Oberman, authority on Martin Luther shares, “Historians of every stripe have found only one statesman thoroughly praiseworthy: Frederick the Wise… a man of integrity.”
Frederick the Wise was the man that master mined the helpful kidnapping of Martin Luther in 1521. Both the Pope and the Emeror wanted to crush Martin Luther and truth contained in Luther’s famous 95 thesis. Fredrick held them at bay. This truth from God’s word was one of the most valuable catalysts in the Reformation of the Church.
Fredrick the Wise was a hero.
Andrew van der Bijl or better known as, Brother Andrew (1928 – alive) another hero to many. He Attended a 1957 Communist youth conference behind the Iron Curtain in Poland. The brain washing of these young people broke his heart.
God uses a breeze of wind to flip the pages of his open Bible to Revelations chapter 3, where he read, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” He then knew the remaining believers in Poland must not die. They must be strengthened. This is when he became a hero by smuggling God’s word to the Polish believers.
A name most of our readers will know is that of William Bathman, better known as Bill Bathman, ITMI’s founder and Director for many years.
ITMI Founder, Bill Bathman.
Bill is a hero to many on multiple continents – especially to the many brothers and sisters in Christ who were imprisoned in Eastern Europe’s Communist countries during the 1960 – 1980s. He encouraged God’s message of salvation and hope to countless hungry souls.
ITMI presents to you today someone else that according to testimonies below, qualifies as a hero.
Our hero will very much deny this title.
In 1984, while he was a freshman in a Warsaw University, Bill Bathman asked him, “what do you need?”
“We need dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew interlinears, and Bible lexicons… if we will not start (translating the original Bible languages into a usable and accurate Polish translation) now, it will not happen after 30 years.”
Bill faithfully equipped and supplied this budding hero, unleashing a thirty year journey of growth. In this time our valiant hero faithfully studied the original Bible languages.
He went from a proficient translator to an expert.
He finished a sixteen year season of nose-to-the-grind-stone work that drove what is truly a great accomplishment. His heart, passion and dedication has given the 40-plus-million-strong Polish-speaking world, an accurate version of God’s word in their mother tongue and heart language.
Sixteen years, untold hours of prayer, study and translation, and now ITMI’s Polish partner, Dr. Piotr Zaremba can look back over a large portion of his life and 6620 finished Bible pages of literal and literary versions of the most accurate and understandable Bible that Poland has today.
Piotr Zaremba and his wife, Krystyna.
Piotr doesn’t want to be a hero. He continually gives all the credit to what God has done, and to all many partners and donors whose fingerprints will forever be attached to this exceptional accomplishment.
He doesn’t want to be named with champions of old, however when you hear what current Believers and Speakers alike say about this new Polish Old and New Testament, you might have to disagree with Piotr.
The passion, excitement and gratitude will become clearly evident as you read – translated from Polish, words of excitement over this new Bible translation.
“I couldn’t go back to the old translation. … the clarity of vision I get with the new translation outweighs all. Imagine now how deeply touched I was when I first read St. John’s letter in the new translation, which uses the contemporary verb for “love”. Suddenly, the entire epistle became strikingly personal and incredibly real, and I felt so close to God, surrounded by His never-outdated love.” – Basia, Olsztyn
“The new translation is very user friendly… brings the reader closer to God… it makes it easier to study the Scripture… at the same time it encourages deeper reflection by including different textual variants… the footnotes are extremely helpful, a real mine of information.” – Artur, Poznan
“The new Bible translation has first and foremost inspired me to dig deeper, beyond the written letter – to explore the fullness of what God wants to communicate to people in His Holy World. The footnotes included in the translation have been tremendously helpful…! There are a lot of passages and verses I was able to understand on a much deeper level.” – Agnieszka, Poznan
“After a tragedy ripped apart my personal life, I was left to pick up the pieces… frantically grasping at anything that might offer even a shred of comfort. New Testament in the new translation was my first encounter with the Word of God. Pastor Peter… one day told me plainly, 'Read the New Testament. It will transform your life'… I took a chance, and I was instantly hooked.
I read through the entire New Testament in 10 days. I couldn’t wait to come home and lay my hands on the book again, just as if I was reading a bestselling adventure story. … it answered all the questions I grappled with… in a very straightforward way. My life began to change.
First there was the constant peace that replaced the usual ups-and-downs.
Second, I saw clearly my life as it really was… the Word of God made me realize how much filth there was in the recesses of my seemingly “clean” soul: spiteful thoughts, indulging in gossip, obsessively controlling every aspect of my life.
To those who were involved in giving me this amazing translation of the Word of God, I would like to say, “You are a part of something incredibly beautiful.” It’s priceless… I can… hold it in my hand, give it to my relatives. I have one thing to say to them now: “Read this, and your entire system of thought will clear up.” – Kasia, Poznan
“I’ve been feeding on the Word of God over twenty years. However, when I first got to know the new EIB’s translation, I was impressed like never before. Suddenly a lot of passages stood in a vibrant color! The contemporary language cleared a lot of doubts I had about some verses. I feel encouraged to read more and more.
Even my 17-year old son reacted enthusiastically to the translation. He started reading the NT book by book, happy that “he finally understands everything”! (I think a lot of other adolescents felt the same way, so this is nothing short of a breakthrough!). We give a wholehearted thank you to everyone who supported the project! It was time and money best spent! We’re looking forward to the seeing the entire Bible published! Amen." – Karolina, Poznan
“The text is clear and natural… no inflated words, which sound totally outdated to a contemporary ear. At the same time, the translation stays faithful to the original text. The passages which are difficult to interpret are clearly marked and described in footnotes. Personally, I find this translation to be very much needed for our times, and I’m not the only one. This is the version I’ve been waiting for! I keep wanting to know more about the living Word of God!” – Jacek, Poznan
“When I read it, I get the feeling that it is directed with equal strength and urgency to every generation, including my own. It’s easy to read and understand. There are a lot of passages that I understand now on a deeper level… and the truths they communicate feel readily available, within my reach. One example is the Lord’s prayer.
The new translation made it fresh and full of meaning, natural and bringing one closer to God. Also, this new translation encourages and inspires me to reach out to other people. All in all, it’s a great piece of work. I’m thankful to God and to everyone who has played a part in making it become a reality.” – Marek, Poznan
“Its definite advantage is the straightforward style and clearly built sentences. There are a lot of verses that literally came to life in this translation… my recent favorite is Paul’s prayer in Eph 3:17-18. For me as a psychologist, this wording packs a real punch!” – Ania, Warsaw
“I’ve been reading the Bible regularly for many years, but this translation is the first one that made me feel my daily readings are real conversations between me and Somebody incredibly close. I feel that all that important information comes from a Person who loves me and values me. Not only that, I feel that this Person really knows me – because He is speaking my language.
Previous translations would leave me with a feeling of distance. Now, that distance is gone, and the truths I read about in the Bible feel very natural – I don’t have to decipher them in my head to suit my daily reality.” – Beata, Poznan
“Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, everybody who supported the precious project of translating the Bible into contemporary Polish language… Thank you for believing that this project will bear fruit! Thank you for supporting our pastor, Peter Zaremba. Can you imagine how hard it is to encourage a fresh believer or a child to read the Bible if the text is full of “old fashioned” words.
My husband Reiner and I are Sunday School teachers at 5N. We teach kids age 10 to 11. We have noticed it is much easier for our pupils to understand the message if we use the new translation of “The New Testament and Psalms”. Previously, the kids would not understand! They would focus on the strange words which sounded artificial and distant rather than on the message.
The word “dziatkom” in old Polish means “children” but it is pronounced exactly the same way as another word meaning “grandparents” – dziadkom”. Imagine now the confusion on reading “grandparents” instead of “children” (in Mark 10:14): “suffer the grandparents to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” Being a 10 or 11 year old kid, what kind of a vision of heaven do you get after reading that?
The contemporary version done by Pastor Zaremba sounds much more optimistic though. As you can imagine, we are looking forward to the printed version of the new translation of The Old Testament as well! May God bless you dear Sister, dear Brother, for helping us, both teachers and children in Poland, to understand the Word of God better.” – Maja & Reiner van den Berg
You might be asking, “Who is the 5th Hero?”
The 5th hero is yet to be decided. The 5th hero will be all who are led to help Piotr now finish what he has started – the publishing of this new translation.
The goal has not yet been reached. The long and difficult portion, the translation is done.
The finish line is in sight.
We can all be a part of this monumental project if we will commit to pray and seek God’s leading as we need to resource Piotr in the proofing and printing stage of this Bible translation project. Will you become a hero to Piotr and to possibly 40+ millions Poles who need God’s word?
Summer Kelley is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She’s had the honor and privilege of telling ITMI’s stories since 2006. She’s a homeschooling mom and a T-shirt and jeans aficionado who likes all things simple. When she’s not writing or homeschooling, you can find her honing her skills as what some might call a "suburban survivalist" as she learns to thrive in the suburbs with 3 kids. As a productivity and organizing enthusiast, she may or may not spend hours attempting to use technology to "save time.” Summer loves reading, the outdoors and Coca-Cola Classic from the fountain.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.