Archive for the ‘Bible Translation’ Category

A book for everyone

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Thank you for praying for the launch of the Baka New Testament and Genesis in March (Seeing with blind eyes). God answered your prayers in an incredible way; the event was able to take place, the books containing the New Testament and Genesis arrived and all the visitors were able to travel safely.

The launch celebrations were held in Maridi in the province of Western Equatoria. It was the biggest event held there – ever. Not only was it large but it was high profile; the governor of Maridi State and his wife as well as other dignitaries including a retired army general and bishops and archbishops of various denominations were in attendance.

Over 7000 people came along to join the 5 hour long celebrations which included speeches, singing and dancing, a meal, performances by local choirs and a showing of the JESUS Film in Baka. The film had been shown in Juba late last year but this was the first time it was shown in the Baka homeland.

We are so excited that this New Testament has been endorsed by both the Anglican bishop and the Catholic archbishop of the region. In the speeches it was made clear that this book containing the New Testament and Genesis is for everyone, it is not the possession of one denomination or another.

When the boxes of New Testaments were opened to sell, a big crowd surged towards the tables, waving their money in the air. As people got their hands on their copies they sat down and started reading immediately.

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing way that he answered our prayers. Please pray:

  • that the Baka will continue to read the New Testament in their language and that it will transform many lives
  • that God would bring peace to South Sudan and provide for those impacted by the famine

Does this answer to prayer encourage you to pray for Bible translation regularly? Subscribe to receive our free magazine, Words for Life, which is full of interesting articles and includes a prayer diary with daily prayer needs for Bible translation projects around the globe.

Colour TV is a human right

Monday, April 17th, 2017 by Camilla

As a child, TV was very important to me. I didn’t really see the point of black and white TVs like they’d had in the old days, and I figured colour TV was practically a human right.

These days I feel more strongly about universal access to the Bible, and we know reading the Bible in a second language can be almost like watching your favourite TV show in black and white – it’s not quite how it was meant to be experienced. Like many people groups around the world, until a few years ago, the Choco of Panama didn’t have the Bible in their own language.

The Choco people’s Bible translation story is one that starts in the age of black-and-white entertainment and carries on into the age of Blu-ray. In 1960, Bible translator Dick Scott left his home in the US and made the journey to Panama, aged just 24. He would spend a total of 13 years living among the Choco people, and they wouldn’t have a complete Bible in their language, called Emberá, until 2013.

The Choco people lived in a remote rainforest, with no running water and no roads. Despite their isolation from the rest of the world, they were very open to Dick and his two colleagues.

Dick spent time with a mother-tongue speaker learning the unwritten Emberá language, and developing a writing system for it on his typewriter, before going on to translate the New Testament, starting with Mark. Over the years to come until 2013, he would travel back and forth between his home in the US and the Choco people, all the while working to complete the Choco Bible, as well as finding time to serve as a leader in an Oregon church.

With the Bible finally available in their language, the Choco people can experience the Bible as it’s meant to be experienced, in full colour.

This blog post is adapted from a story originally posted on Oregon Live’s website. Read the original article.

Our awesome magazine Words for Life full of news just like the story you’ve just read comes out three times a year. Sign up – it’s free!

Praying in new members for the team

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

A large nation, dominated by rainforest, where infrastructure is generally poor and the repercussions of long years of unrest and fighting are still significantly impacting daily life. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa is a poor nation which faces many challenges.

I was surprised to find out, however, that the greatest personnel needs are not for skilled linguists or translators, as national staff are doing a great job with the nitty-gritty of translation. What the translation projects here need is more support staff.

We praise God for what he is doing. After years of struggle in the eastern part of the country, in March 2016, three language communities celebrated the launch of their New Testaments (see our blog One New Testament? How about three?). Another New Testament is due to be launched this August but there are still over 100 languages that need the word of God and where translation has not yet even started.

However, without workers the harvest can never be gathered in. The greatest needs at the moment are for an assistant for the language programmes manager, and a finance mentor to support nationals in the bookkeeping and finance systems. Both of these roles will significantly increase the capacity of those involved in training and translating.

Please ask God to send the right people to fill the following urgent needs:

  • A finance mentor, short or long term but available for a minimum of 5-6 months. They must be able to speak French well and willing to live in Bunia, eastern DRC.
  • Assistant to the language programmes manager to support the various translation projects around this large nation. Long term involvement is preferable but even a 6-12 month commitment could make a significant difference. Again a good level of French and willingness to live in Bunia is required.

Find out how your specific skills can be used to support Bible translation.

Go along to The Next Step and find out more about Bible translation and serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Sign up for our free magazine Words for Life, which is packed full of interesting and informative articles as well as a daily prayer need for Bible translation around the world.

Full steam ahead for the Kamuku project

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Your prayers make a difference, even from a long-distance. One of the featured projects in our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time is the Kamuku project in Nigeria. A lady in Scotland started praying for Bible translation to begin there, in the early 1980s. She carried on praying until 2009 when the project had started.

The Kamuku project started slowly in order to establish strong roots and has faced many challenges so we asked you to pray. Praise God, exciting things are happening; God is answering your prayers.

On 7th April, the Gospel of Luke will be launched in Kamuku both as a book and as audio recordings on SD-cards. This will be great for those who have not yet learned to read or just prefer to communicate orally.

To help the Kamuku people use Scripture well and understand it, listening group leaders have been specially trained. They have audio players to use and gospel Scripture materials with which they hope to engage the group members.

That’s not all. The Gospel of Mark has been sent off to their translation consultant for checking and the team is now working on Acts and some of the shorter epistles. They feel that they are experiencing a major boost and that it’s full steam ahead!

Here are some ways that you can pray for the continued progress of the Kamuku project:

  • Praise God for the printer who is printing 1000 copies of Luke. Pray that they are good quality and available in good time for the launch.
  • Pray that the launch will boost interest in learning to read and write and that the project will be able to meet any increase in demand.
  • Pray that many will come along to the listening groups and that many lives will be changed as a result.
  • Pray the committee has wisdom as they use funds raised from the sale of the books. It is hoped that there will be enough money to employ a full-time translator.

Check out our goody bags and pray for significant needs faced by Bible translation projects.

Subscribe to receive our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and prayer information.

Inspired to carry on translating even in prison

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by Martin Horton

On a cluster of islands in eastern Indonesia, schoolteacher Manu* translates the Bible into his mother tongue, Kuluhi*.

The Bible does not yet exist in any of the 17 languages of these islands. Most people do not have a good understanding of Christianity because teaching and services have been held in a language they do not understand well, rather than in their own languages.

It is in this context that Manu and other translators are working. He and his team have had more than their fair share of challenges, including the death of a team member. More recently, Manu himself was sent to prison for a year because of a boat accident during a school trip he was leading.

Although unbearable at first, he now testifies to God’s faithfulness to him during this time.

‘The book I always had to hand was the Bible, as well as a booklet in my own language with the story of Joseph. Motivated by how Joseph ministered to his fellow prisoners, I prayed that I would be able to do the same. I invited all the prisoners to worship together every Saturday. This invitation was well received, and my fellow prisoners even asked me to share God’s word.’

Manu was even able to carry on translating Scripture into his language during his time in prison.

God’s word changes even the most difficult circumstances. Manu and others who are working to bring God’s word to those on these islands need our prayers as they continue the task God has given them.

Pray now:

  • Praise God for the comfort and guidance God’s word gave Manu in prison. Ask God to touch the lives of many other people in similar ways, as they read his word.
  • For good progress with translation and for the translators to know God’s help in overcoming challenges that  slow down translation.
  • For protection against spiritual opposition that can prevent work from going ahead, good relationships and unity between team members.

If you would also like to support this work financially, give securely online now.

Why not commit to praying for this project regularly? Sign up and be sure to specify that you want to pray for the Kuluhi project.

Why not subscribe to our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and it contains a prayer diary with daily pray requests to help you pray specifically for Bible translation around the globe.

*Names changed for security reasons

Standing firm in the face of attack

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Often, as a translation project nears completion it faces increased spiritual attack. The Keliko New Testament project from South Sudan is one that has faced far greater challenges than normal and yet the team are committed to reaching their goal: a finished New Testament.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan last July near the capital Juba brought new insecurities. Branch director Jackie Marshall picks up the story:

‘As the rebels left Juba after the clashes here, they moved westward towards Congo and this has ended up destabilising areas of Equatoria which have been quite stable and peaceful for many years. One of our translation and literacy projects is with the Keliko people who live close to the border with Uganda and Congo. Now many people have fled to live in refugee camps in Congo or northern Uganda including the families of two of the Keliko translators, Enos and Ezekiah, and Elisa Ayani, the Keliko literacy worker.

Elisa recently made a trip back into his area (through Congo as that is the safest way in) to see how things were. Unfortunately civilians end up getting caught between government and rebel sides and abused or sometimes killed as a result. I spoke to him on the phone about his trip and he said that the people live with a lot of fear, and communication and transport has become much more difficult. There are only three primary schools out of more than 20 still somewhat operating. Most people (including churches) have moved away from main paths or roads and try to live and farm deeper in the forest.

The Keliko translators have now left their wives in northern Uganda to return to Juba and are doing final reviews of books to lead up to typesetting in the next few months. It now seems as if they will have to launch their New Testament in northern Uganda rather than in their home area.’

Praise God that since Christmas, security in Juba has been good and it is a safe place for the Keliko translators to work.

Please pray:

  • for an end to all political unrest in South Sudan. Pray for all those who have been caught up in the conflict and are now living in refugee camps.
  • that the translation team, churches and God’s people would have the power and strength to live lives of love, grace and truth in this fractured society.
  • for the Keliko translators in the final checks before typesetting and printing of the New Testament. Ask God to help them produce a natural, clear and accurate translation.

Around the world many translation projects are facing challenges and need your prayers. Find out more about them by subscribing to our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles and gives a daily prayer request as well.

Seeing with blind eyes

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

South Sudan is a struggling nation. Most recently it has hit the news as the first country in six years to face famine due to instability, fighting and economic collapse. Yet in the face of all these challenges God has enabled his work to continue and one people group called the Baka will soon have access to the word of God.

The launch of the New Testament and Genesis will take place in the home area of the Baka people in Western Equatoria on Sunday 12th March. Doug who worked with the project for a number of years explains why this is such as significant milestone:

‘Most Bakas are churchgoers, but many are still influenced by traditional animistic religious beliefs and practices. This is due largely to the lack of Scripture in their own language. Although Baka church leaders have conducted prayers, singing and preaching in the Baka language for a number of years, they have had to give the Scripture readings in languages that many of their parishioners understand only imperfectly, so they do not fully understand what the Scriptures really say.  

For this reason the Baka New Testament translation project was begun in the early 1980s. It would have been completed years ago, but decades of civil war have brought many delays and hardships. Nevertheless, the translation team has persevered, encouraged by people’s response to the early drafts of Scripture portions.

One old man said that previously when he heard Scripture read in another language, it was like seeing something far off in the distance — fuzzy and indistinct; but hearing it in his own language brought it up close — clear and detailed. A blind woman even said that when she heard Scripture in the Baka language, it was as though she could see it with her eyes!’

Please pray:

  • that the launch will be a wonderful day of celebration and that a lasting desire will be imparted to the believers to study the Scriptures in their language and to use them for spiritual growth and for outreach
  • for safe transportation of people and Bibles to the launch
  • for the Baka people to be enriched by the word of God and find comfort, healing and new life.

*SIL is our primary partner

Subscribe to our free magazine Words for Life to find out more about Bible translation and for daily prayer requests to enable more language communities, like the Baka, to receive God’s word in the language that speaks to their hearts.

Together We Can

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 by Martin Horton

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there-all nations and tribes, all races and languages. Rev 7:9-10 (MSG)

In November last year, there were fantastic celebrations in the Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea, as 11 language groups celebrated receiving a mini-Bible in their own mother-tongue.

What is in a Mini-Bible? They consist of the Gospel of Mark, which is the easiest gospel to translate, the book of Acts which covers how the church was established and then a panorama of the Old Testament which includes sections of the Old Testament that cover key Biblical events mentioned in the New Testament.

These were completed through a project called VITAL* which adopted the PNG Branch’s motto, ‘Together We Can’. Karla Watt, who was the project manager, believes that this motto sums up a new approach to Bible translation. In essence it is about the value of team work. VITAL is a multi-language translation strategy designed to meet the needs of language communities and dialects of the East Papua Region of Papua New Guinea that had no other way to begin a programme in the near future.

Karla goes on to explain,

The expatriates brought their Bible, linguistic, exegetical and software A to the table, while the nationals from each group brought the expertise in their languages so that “together” we could accomplish the task.’

VITAL has helped 14 language groups print books in their languages. These include literacy materials, AIDS materials, trial dictionaries, portions of Genesis, a Mark Bible Study and first editions of Mark as well as publishing and launching the Mini-Bible for 11 languages in late 2016.

Please pray for the work of VITAL and the people of Milne Bay:

  • Pray that as the fruit of 10 years work goes out to 11 language groups in Milne Bay, lives will be transformed as people read and understand his great love for them in their own heart languages.
  • Pray that those who aren’t able to read will be reached through listening to God’s word on Megavoice Storyteller MP3 players.
  • Pray that these teams will be motivated to continue translating God’s word using the equipment and training that they received through the VITAL Project.

Looking for more ways to pray for Bible translation? Sign up for our free magazine Words for Life which includes a prayer point for each day, or have Bible translation prayer points emailed to you each day.

*Vernacular Initiative for Translation and Literacy (VITAL) is a project run by SIL who are one of our language partners.

‘Is this really from the Bible??’

Monday, February 27th, 2017 by Camilla

Luna* grew up in a Southeast Asian country in a community that farmed rice and animals, hunted for their favourite source of wild meat and gathered whatever they needed from the forest that hedged their village on the cool mountain slopes.

One day a week, she would follow her parents and other families to a larger wooden hut at one end of their village. There they would sing some songs from memory and then someone whom everyone called ‘Pastor’ would rise, open a book and begin reading from it. She could not understand what Pastor was saying when she was a child. As she grew older, she was able to understand some words and phrases, but not all. It was not the language that she spoke at home or with her village community.

Luna also learnt from her parents who would regularly place some delicious portions of chicken meat at the trunk of certain trees beside their home and farmland. Her mother whispered to her that there were “unseen beings” that protected them from harm and must not be angered. She remembered when she fell very sick once and drifted in and out of consciousness from the high fever. Her mother had carried her to a big house in the centre of the village. The master of that house put on strange headgear and began prancing around her as she lay on the floor. Whatever he did frightened her, but her mother held her down. Eventually, she was given something very bitter to drink, which somehow made her well.

One day, two girls she knew from the next village visited. They had fun chatting and catching up with each others’ news. Then the girls shared a story from the Bible in the local language.

Is this story really from the Bible??’ Luna asked, wide-eyed. The other two nodded. ‘This is so much easier to understand than the sermons in our church!’ she exclaimed. That day, Luna understood a lesson on God’s grace and on being obedient to God in a way she had never been able to before.

In Luna’s community, there are many people who are Christian in name but are still following folk religious practices because of their lack of understanding of God’s word in their own language. An oral Bible story project is underway to develop Bible stories in their language community for a better understanding of God’s word.

*name changed for security reasons

This story is adapted from an article originally published in Wycliffe Singapore’s magazine – More than Words, June 2015.

Want to know more about what’s going on in the world of Bible translation? Sign up for our magazine, Words for Life. It’s free!

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

Saturday, February 18th, 2017 by Alfred

On February 18th we commemorate the death of priest, theologian, and Bible translator Martin Luther (b. November 10, 1483 – d. February 18, 1546).

Luther is most famous for nailing his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg – 500 years ago this year – which many people cite as the primary starting point of the Reformation.

Yet Luther’s later work translating the Bible was also fundamental to the Reformation.

Luther loved the Bible but knew that, at the time, the Bible was not accessible to everyone. So he concluded that a new translation, in the common language of the German people was necessary.

His focus as he worked on the translation was to enable the ‘tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons’ to be able to read God’s word for themselves. Indeed, he was so committed to the ordinariness of the language in the translation, he would take trips into local towns and villages to listen to the way people spoke.

Luther’s translation marked a shift in the church’s approach to the Bible, as Philip Schaff notes:

“The Bible ceased to be a foreign book in a foreign tongue, and became far more clear and dear to the common people. Hereafter the Reformation depended no longer on the works of the Reformers, but on the book of God, which everybody could read for himself as his daily guide in spiritual life.”

It spurred on Bible translation in Europe, especially in French, Dutch and English.

Yet now over 1.5 billion people – more than the entire world population when Luther was alive – still do not have the Bible in the language they speak and understand best. Wycliffe Bible Translators is working so that all peoples around the world can engage with the Bible in the language they most understand.

Find out how you can be part of Bible translation.