Speaking in their language, designing for their culture

written by Inger R.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” - Romans 10: 14-15a (NIV)

God’s people sent out

Margret was living in a fourth-floor apartment in Europe and stuck at home with a broken leg. Aware of her limited mobility, friends called and offered to shop for her or wash her clothes. Margret caught herself wishing they would simply ask: “How can I help you?” so she could tell them what she needed. At this thought, she felt God challenge her in return, asking: “Why can I not ask you to go [to the Himalayas]?”

While working with OM in her European home country, Margret spotted information about a small team in the Himalayas who were translating the Bible for a minority people group. An interest in the region that had been sparked on a trip to Asia years before resurfaced. She decided she wanted to go. A trained graphic designer, Margret also sensed God telling her He wanted her to print the Scripture that her colleagues were preparing.

“I was 36 years old, and everyone thought it was a crazy idea,” Margret remembered. “I also thought it was a crazy idea.” So, she discussed the matter with God. “I asked Him to give me a good reason to do it,” she continued. “Then I broke my leg.” While  confined to a cast, the counter question from God convinced Margret to trust Him and go.

God’s truth passed on

Margret left Europe behind and entered a culture almost completely untouched by outside influences and largely unreached with the gospel. As she began studying the difficult local language, Margret met with other university students. She observed that life was hard for the women as they sought to follow their beliefs, which are strongly tied to their customs and identity. Margret told them that God loves them and of the hope she had experienced in her life. “The amazing freedom to know it’s about Jesus, not about me,” she shared. “It’s not about them and how good they live their lives; it’s about what Jesus did for them.”  

The moment came for Margret’s team to publish the New Testament in the minority language. They initially released the translation online as an app, while Margret designed and laid out the print and eBook versions. “I see my promise fulfilled,” said the graphic designer, who applied her cultural knowledge in creating the publication. “I feel I was called to do this, and I saw it happen in my lifetime.”   

Completing this significant task was a comfort when, after over a decade, Margret had to return to her homeland when her visa was not renewed. Margret joined OM’s media ministry, MediaWorks, where she continues to design resources that believers can use to communicate the hope of Christ in their communities, including in the Himalayas. 

God’s Son believed in

“We gave out a lot of seeds,” Margret said, reflecting on sharing God’s truth abroad. “Very few became believers, and I think many understood, but in their society, it is hard [to openly follow Jesus].” However, the development of publishing God’s Word in the local language has an added meaning for Margret. “The printed New Testament is a sign of the reality of Christian belief,” she described. “It’s real and here!” In the absence of visible churches, the tangible Scripture represents the existence of Jesus followers among the minority people group.  

Since the New Testament became available as an app in 2016, the digital edition has been downloaded over 100,000 times. It makes a difference for people to read passages in their heart language as it’s easier to understand. With no established churches to disciple them, the small groups of Himalayan believers are asking: “How, now, should we live?” In response, the Himalayan ministry team, Margret and her MediaWorks colleagues have been designing apps and publications, that equip locals to study God’s Word by themselves and grow in their faith.  

Considering her own journey, Margret turns the focus away from her and her ministry. She emphasises it’s about following Jesus even when you don’t always understand the reason He wants you to do something. “Jesus is just asking us to look to Him,” she said. “And to do what He is asking.”

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” - Romans 10:15b (NIV)


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Photo: Ellyn Schellenberg

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