Who provided for them out of their means… -Luke 8:3
As Jesus and His disciples benefited from individuals working behind the scenes to supply their needs for ministry, Gospel patrons have quietly undergirded the work of the Great Commission throughout history. We discover an inspiring example of Gospel patronage in the legacy of Humphrey Monmouth.
A Familiar Story
Many of us know well the name of William Tyndale, but just in case… William Tyndale changed the paradigm of Bible access forever when he translated the highly protected Latin translation of the Bible. In a time when the church guarded the Bible with a tight grip and believed only priests should dare to engage with the Bible personally, Tyndale entered history. Gifted by God and fueled by the desire to offer a farmer the same access to God’s Word as a priest, Tyndale began his controversial work to translate the Latin Bible into English for the purpose of mass distribution. He lived and worked in hiding, was betrayed, arrested, and imprisoned, and he ultimately died for the “crime” he committed – providing the masses with access to the Bible.
After his death, his translation work lived on and later became the King James Bible. Although he never saw the fruit of his sacrifice, Tyndale caused a paradigm shift for the sake of the Gospel. God raised up a courageous man of faith and conviction, and Tyndale’s work continues to powerfully ripple out through the centuries into today.
His Unfamiliar Patron
We consider Tyndale a hero of our faith, and his testimony inspires us. But the name Humphrey Monmouth is not easily recognizable. The obscure Monmouth was a wealthy merchant and a contemporary of William Tyndale, a friend. Tyndale lived in Monmouth’s home, ate at his table, and worked to translate the English Bible in a space provided by Monmouth. When printing press technology was new and only located in Europe, Monmouth sent Tyndale secretly on his own merchant ships to Europe. He provided funds to mass print the English New Testament. Monmouth smuggled the printed English Bibles in barrels and fabric bolts and sent thousands to locations across Europe and England.
Monmouth supported Tyndale and funded the distribution of the English Bible. And when Tyndale was betrayed, so was Monmouth. He was arrested, imprisoned and died in the famous Tower of London without notoriety or acclaim, but with every reason to be forever revered by those who cherish any version of the English Bible.
A Similar Place in History
In this newsletter, we consider both Tyndale and Monmouth because we find ourselves at a similar place in history. The work of Bible translation did not end with Tyndale’s English Bible more than 500 years ago – it continues to this day. And with the same fervor and commitment of Tyndale, we aim to make God’s Word accessible to the farmers, pastors, families, and children speaking 7,300+ languages around the world. When we understand that an overwhelming majority of the people do not read, we cannot only hand them a Bible in text. And we praise God that just as Tyndale translated the English Bible in a time when technology allowed for mass distribution, we also live in a generation that can truly distribute the Bible in audio and make it freely available. No generation before ours has been able to do this. Are we on the cusp of Tyndale-like paradigm shift in Bible access? Our hearts burst with excitement at the thought because we know what God’s Word says about the day when every tribe, tongue, and nation hears the Gospel preached.
The Example & Challenge
We recognize in our mission to make God’s Word accessible for the masses, we need the courage, faith and dedication of Tyndale. But we also need the courage, faith, dedication, and investment of Monmouth to finally see every spoken language with access to the Bible.
As we consider the impact Tyndale and Monmouth have had on us and our families, does it stir us to action? Can we take up their banner? Can we give of our lives and comforts in order to offer the world access to God’s Word?
And as Tyndale prayed with his dying breath, “Lord, open the eyes of the king,” we echo a similar fervent prayer, “Lord, open the eyes and ears of the those around the world who are waiting to hear your Word.”