Last year, through another writer associated with The Word Guild, I received an email from Lawrence. A Wycliffe translator for 25 years, he had written a book about his life in Papua, New Guinea. He asked if I would read it.
Lawrence’s story begins with building a slab door for the primitive dwelling he built for his family. Along with his wife and their sons, Lawrence made himself at home with the Oksapmin people. His mission to translate the New Testament into the local language took many years.
Scores of people, from humble tribal friends to adventurous globe trotters came through the open door of the Lawrence home. As a reader, I walked through that humble door. I saw how the Lawrences received the Oksapmin people into their home and into their lives. Some became life-long friends, like Guyhem Bek, a “co-worker, superb translator, clear thinker, and learner” who helped Lawrence learn the language and translate the New Testament. The book is dedicated to him.
I didn’t meet Marshall and Helen until after I’d read his book but his warm and candid writing style made me feel like I already knew him. His writing smiles with humor. But the reader shares his grief when one by one his boys left home at an early age for boarding school.
Marshall and Helen, now retired, live in Echo Bay, Ontario, near Sault Ste. Marie, When they came for tea one afternoon, Marshall said he wasn’t sure if he should publish the book or just tuck it away. Tuck it away? I can’t remember my exact words but I wanted to convey how tragic I thought it would be if the book wasn’t published. Others who love stories will want to know the Oksapmin people. Through Lawrence’s book, these gentle souls can knock on our doors.
From the first opening of the door to its final closing, Lawrence warms the reader’s heart with his engaging humour and style.
I’m glad for the day Lawrence knocked on my door. Meeting people like he and Helen, devoted servants of Christ, inspires and blesses me.