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God Speaks Navajo – Fay Edgerton, 1889–1968

Diana Lynn Severance

Faye Edgerton, born in 1889, was a joyful child with musical talent whose life was carefree until scarlet fever brought her to the door of death. Faye lost her hearing and realized she had been living a purposeless life apart from God. When she recovered and her hearing returned, Faye praised God and determined to live her life for Him. She trained for work as a missionary at Moody Bible Institute and, in 1918, was sent to Korea by the American Presbyterian Mission. She diligently studied Korean on board the ship, so that when she arrived in Korea she could read the language well.

The first winter in Korea, Faye suffered severely from sinusitis. In the following spring the violence and terror of an independence movement in Korea took a toll on Faye’s nerves. Though she tried to keep going at her station, in 1922 Faye’s health forced her to return to the United States. After her recovery the Presbyterian Board assigned Faye to work at a Navajo school in Arizona, hoping the climate would solve her sinus problem.

As Faye taught the Navajo children she became increasingly convinced that the Navajo
needed the Scriptures in their own language. The Navajo was the largest Native American
tribe in the United States, and at that time 70 per cent spoke no English. In 1944 Faye left
the Presbyterian mission to join Wycliffe Bible Translators and work on translating the New
Testament into Navajo. She prayed that she would be able to have the light of the gospel
translated into the Navajo tongue.

Earlier missionaries had translated portions of the Scripture into Navajo, but Faye sought to have the entire New Testament translated. She and her Wycliffe associate Faith Hill worked
closely with Navajo Geronimo Martin to revise the older translations and complete the New
Testament. The complete New Testament was published by the American Bible Society in
1956. Four editions, 9,000 volumes in all, were published in three years, showing the Navajos’ hunger for the Scriptures. The Navajos felt this was no longer missionaries talking, but God talking to them.

Faye began learning Apache and, together with Faith Hill, trans lated the New Testament into the Apache language. She continued working on revisions and new translations into Hopi and Inupiat until her death in 1968.


The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

 ~Isaiah 40:8~


This extract is from Her–Story: 366 Devotions from 21 Centuries of the Christian Church


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