Grace Fabian, Wycliffe Bible Translator Missionary
When Grace Fabian and her husband Edmund accepted an assignment in 1969 to go to Papua New Guinea as Bible translators, they planned to really "do a number" on the Nabak People. After all, the dedicated, highly trained couple was there to decipher the Nabak language, create an alphabet, and ultimately translate the Scriptures for these remote villagers.
Grace will tell you that the translation of the New Testament was eventually completed but it came with great sacrifice and suffering.
The sacrifice came in 1993. While Edmund was sitting at his desk translating I Corinthians 13—known, ironically, as the Love Chapter, he was brutally murdered by a local villager.
Understandably, Grace was horrified and heartbroken . . . the pain and suffering so intense that she was prepared to leave the translation work unfinished and return to the States. But Grace began to feel the Lord nudging her to stay put and complete the work she and Edmund had started together so many years before.
This was confirmed for Grace when her son Jonathan arrived in Nabak for Edmund's funeral. Jonathan went with a local pastor to villages in the area to show the JESUS film. A village leader, touched by the film, shared with his people that by Jonathan coming to show the JESUS film, even after his father was murdered, expressed Christ's love and forgiveness shown on the cross. This poignant event marked a change in the Nabak people and renewed Grace's passion to see the translation completed.
"God is so almighty," says Grace. "He is able to take a tragedy and use it for His glory."
Indeed, the Nabak translation of the New Testament was completed in 1998—and not without fanfare. Two dedication celebrations marked the blessed event.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the celebration, however, was when Grace and her family were lovingly inducted into the clan of the very man who had taken her husband's life.
"I thought I was going to teach the villagers," Grace says. "But they taught me too . . . about reconciliation."
Soon after the translation of the New Testament was finished, Grace returned to the U.S. to be with her ailing father. Then in 2002, she returned to Papua New Guinea, where she spent three years teaching at a Bible college.
Today Grace lives in Pennsylvania, teaching Bible translation courses to missionaries who are preparing for the mission field. She has recently authored a book, Outrageous Grace, and covets the opportunity to share her adventures and her passion for Bible translation so that others might have the chance to read God's Word in their heart language.