The Faroe Islands. A network of 18 islands, connected by tunnels and ferries and bridges, situated halfway between Iceland and Norway. As in centuries past, fishing remains the economic ballast, and the sheep dotting the hillsides seem to agree with the Danish name for the country: “islands of sheep.” It has a landscape marked by rocky coastlines and rugged terrain, with the misty shores, hidden harbours and colourful villages making it a photographer’s paradise. Around 50,000 people call this unique and beautiful country home.
This past May, GoodSeed staff member Allan Ellingsgaard, along with John and Janice Cross, spent three weeks in the Faroe Islands. This was a trip back home for Allan, since he was raised in the Faroe Islands. For John and Janice, this was their first time in the country. Despite the innate tourist appeal of the country, the scenery and culture was not what primarily drew them to the Faroes. All three were there for the dedication of the Faroese edition of The Lamb, which was hot off the press.
It was 16 years ago that Allan first dreamed of having a book like The Lamb in Faroese. At the time, he was a leader at a youth camp in the Faroes, and he wished there was a resource that would systematically and chronologically present the gospel to children. It’s not as though the Faroese youth didn’t know the Bible’s stories. The majority of people in the Faroe Islands are very familiar with the basic tenets of the Bible—95% of the population profess to be Christians. But what Allan longed to see was a resource that put all the pieces of the Bible’s message together in a very simple way that would have a broad use, regardless of the background of the individual.
In 2008, this dream started to become a reality when a missionary from the Faroe Islands contacted Allan about the possibility of translating The Stranger into Faroese. It was deemed wise to start with a smaller project, so The Lamb was suggested as an alternative. The missionary was keen on the idea and in 2011, he began the process of translating The Lamb.
No translation project of this scale can be classified as easy, and it was a five-year process to get the manuscript readied for publication. It takes a number of years to complete a project as the process of translating a GoodSeed book into another language follows many of the rigours and disciplines of Bible translation.
When a Christian publisher heard of the project, he was immediately interested: “This is what we need—something simple that can sit in every family’s home.” His positive feedback was an encouragement to keep working. This publisher, along with GoodSeed’s translation coordinators, championed the Faroese translation. He helped with getting the manuscript checked, edited, tested and brought to completion.
Finally in May 2016, the book was published and ready for distribution. The publisher invited Allan and John and Janice to the Faroes for the dedication. Would they come and visit the Islands to help bring publicity to the new book, as well as explain GoodSeed’s purpose?
It was an emotional moment for Allan when the publisher handed him his own copy of The Lamb in Faroese. Here was a dream come true. Allan and his wife Judith have used The Lamb with their own children for years. It has been the means of clarifying and establishing their boys in the simplicity of the gospel and Allan had so wanted this for those back home as well. Now they had it—in their own heart language.
For three weeks, Allan along with John and Janice travelled the length and breadth of the Faroe Islands, enjoying the friendliness and hospitality of the people. In all, they spoke 11 times—at Sunday services, evening meetings, a seminar and a youth event. During these speaking engagements, Allan would briefly explain GoodSeed and his role with the ministry, as well as introduce The Lamb. John would then follow with a simple creation-to-Christ presentation of the gospel, using visual aids such as the weigh scale and the Passover door. John’s interpreter was a huge blessing, as he poured himself into each speaking engagement and did an excellent job of articulating the message in Faroese.
But the greatest highlight of the trip for Allan, John and Janice was everyone’s receptivity. The simple message of the gospel was well received wherever John presented. As they met with Faroese church leaders, it was a blessing to see how genuine they were in their walk with Christ. Their sincere desire was to communicate truth clearly and their humility and desire to learn was refreshing to observe. It was a privilege to work alongside these men for the common goal of seeing the church strengthened in the gospel.
As Allan and John and Janice look back at their visit to the Faroe Islands, they are encouraged by their time spent with the believers there. People were just excited about the simplicity of the gospel. Comments were made of how the Bible was not just made up of stories, but that it all “fit together” as one cohesive whole.
One mother told Janice, “I’ve tried teaching my daughter using the English edition, but it just was not working… I am looking forward to using the Faroese Lamb.” So far, The Lamb has primarily circulated among one group of churches in the Faroe Islands, but our prayer is that it crosses denominational lines into the state church as well. We are excited about the book’s potential impact in the years ahead as it explains the simple life-saving message of the gospel to whoever reads it, both children and adults.
The Faroese Lamb will be available on our webstores in the near future. To order in the Faroe Islands, please contact the publisher directly: