The Suru heartland is found in the north of the island of Borneo and comprises of about 55,000 people. In the early 1950s, 80% of the Surus who were former animists became Christians on their own initiative. Despite being poor, poorly educated, seriously discriminated against and disadvantaged as believers, the Suru have maintained their faith.
“A group of 40 to 60-year-old women asked me to teach them to read. They had heard that God’s Word was going to be translated into their language and they wanted to be able to read it. Waiting to hear a short snippet read from the pulpit on a Sunday was an unbearable hardship – they were hungry for more. Thus, six to eight of them who had either previously given up learning to read or never had the chance to attend school, began coming together for one afternoon a week for nine whole months. They sweated over their letters and the long Suru words, which even gave them nightmares; they bore with being ridiculed for going to school at their age; they worked doubly hard on their household chores to make time for classes. With much perseverance, they finally succeeded. They bought their own copies of the partial translation as well as a hymn book, and proudly carried them into church one Sunday. Their husbands were astonished; their children who had mocked them now had their interest piqued; their grandchildren were curious too. They bought up the remaining stock of the partial translation and started reading it. This rural congregation became a congregation that read the Word. They became the pillar in their church district, the ones who could be relied on when funding or workers were needed. Reading this Book changed this community’s lives.” – John*, an SIL translator.