Note from GapFill.org’s Founder: I first heard about Grace Fabian from my good friend Kathy Vanaria. She told me of this amazing woman who had lost her husband while translating the New Testament into a Pacific island language. Grace tells her incredible story in a book, Outrageous Grace. After reading this book, I felt as if I knew Grace personally, even though I have never met her. Her story is real, personal, and encouraging to all of us as we try and see God’s big picture in the events of our lives. She could easily be excused if she were to carry to her grave the conviction that her loss was meaningless. I was inspired to hear how our Almighty God brings life out of death in her life.
“Couldn’t I also in a gesture of adoration and faith, offer my husband’s blood as a precious ointment to my Savior?” I asked after reading in God’s word about a woman who, in an act of worship, poured out expensive perfume over Jesus’ head.
I am originally from a farming community in upstate New York, the daughter of a pastor. I served first in Mexico and then thirty-five years in the island nation of Papua New Guinea. Along with my husband, Edmund, I lived in an isolated Nabak-speaking village in Papua New Guinea, learned the language, devised an alphabet, produced literacy materials and translated the Scripture for the 25,000 people speaking this language. All four of our children were born in that country.
On April 29, 1993, Edmund was murdered while sitting at his desk translating the love chapter, I Corinthians 13, into the Nabak language. I, his wife, was the first witness on the scene. I soon learned that the murderer was a Nabak man, one of the members of the tribe we had grown to love, and for whom we endeavored to translate the scriptures.
My four children and I wrestled with grief and disorientation. We struggled while we sought spiritual answers, and tried to mesh two different worlds—the culture of the Nabak-speaking people in the island nation of Papua New Guinea, and of my Christian heritage from the United States. We faced the challenge of forgiving the murderer, rocks thrown onto our roof and through the windows, eviction notices, and twenty months later a court case in this foreign country. Despite this, God’s kindness was poured out on our family, and I, along with committed Nabak men and women completed the translation.
In 1998, the Nabak New Testament was dedicated to the glory of God. I would like to return to the Nabak people in Papua New Guniea to see not only how they are doing in the Lord with the translated scriptures, but also to bring newly printed Nabak hymn books to them for His praise and worship. GapFill is helping me raise the funds to revisit and encourage this wonderful people group who my family and I shared our lives with.
Grace Fabian now resides in Pennsylvania where she speaks, teaches and writes, hoping that others will be inspired to join in the work of reaching Biblesless people groups around the world.
Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can help Grace return to the Nabak people with hymn books in hand. To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.