“We [Fabian and her co-translator, Kondo] discussed Colossians 2:15. That verse talks about Christ making a ‘public spectacle’ of Satan when he died on the cross.
“’Public spectacle,’ how do you say that in Nabak?
“We set it aside and moved to 2 Corinthians, but we hit a snag at 2:14. I wondered how we could ever express these concepts in the Nabak language. The scene is a triumphal procession of Paul’s day accompanied by the sweet odors from the burning of spices in the streets. Then we talked about the cinnamon bark that the Nabaks burn to create the pungent aroma during their dancing and how our lives are a fragrance to the Lord and to others around us because the Good News is within us.
“At last, we were satisfied that we had stated these verses in Corinthians clearly at least, it was the best we could do for now. It was time for coffee break, and Kondo stepped outside to stretch. He noticed the rose bushes growing next to the office wall, lovingly planted and cared for by my husband, which were now budding, and blooming. ‘That’s the way we are most of the time,’ In commented.
“I wasn’t sure what he meant but he continued, ‘The rose has a beautiful fragrance, but no one knows it until the rose blooms. Most often we Christians stay tightly closed like these buds.’ He held a bud gently between his fingers as he continued. ‘We often keep the Good News to ourselves, but the verses we translated today are telling us to open up and let the fragrance of Christ come out.’
“In the afternoon we continued. ‘Sweet aroma’ was one thing, but what about ‘triumphal procession?’
“We talked about the humiliation conquered people would feel being led through the crowds of cheering victors and presented to the king.
“To my surprise Kondo said, ‘This isn’t a problem to translate. We do almost the same as Bible times.’ He described a traditional song and dance that the Nabaks enjoyed performing when their victorious warriors came home from battle. He even demonstrated how the victors flap their loincloth in the faces of their defeated foes to humiliate them; we realized we had the expression we needed for that other troublesome verse in Colossians about public spectacle. So, in Nabak we say, ‘When Jesus died on the cross he took away the bow and arrows from Satan. Jesus disarmed him, and, in a manner of speaking, He flapped His loincloth in their faces.’”