Archive for the ‘Bible Translation’ Category

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.

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*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.

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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.

Rendering God’s word clearly in the beautiful language of Kinga

Monday, February 6th, 2017 by Camilla

‘Lord, we ask you now for wisdom to render your word clearly into the beautiful language of Kinga.’

In the Mbeya cluster project’s offices in southwest Tanzania, Bible translation consultant Samuel Mubbala opened the day’s work with that prayer in his soft mellow voice. At the table also were Kinga pastors and translators Saul Lwilla and Zakayo Swallo. A draft of Hebrews 10 in Kinga shone brightly, projected on the wall. Their laptop computers were open, ready to edit the text.

To make a translation of God’s word ready for people’s hearts, it must be carefully checked. Samuel has been checking the work of other Bible translators since finishing a translation in his own Ugandan mother tongue several years ago. Today his job would be easy. Lwilla and Swallo are nearing the end of the Kinga New Testament project and their work has become very good.

Today’s work on Hebrews 10 began by simply reading. Samuel read aloud slowly in English. Saul followed him, reading the Kinga draft. Both spoke with feeling, clearly savouring the great truths of covenant and sacrifice. After each section was read, they discussed notes from Samuel’s study of the draft. Should the Kinga word for ox be used for bull? Should we say ‘the first covenant’ or ‘the old covenant’? In some African languages, God’s glory can be confused with shining. Does Kinga have this problem?

But the problems and notes were few. Yes, the work was very good. Good enough to impact these three men even in the midst of their checking. While reviewing covenant theology, Samuel suddenly became very personal.

‘When we come to Christ, something is…’ Samuel hesitated, obviously searching his own heart. ‘Something is “installed” in us,’ he continued. ‘We receive a new person and a new life. That is why [God] said, “I’ll make a new covenant. I’ll write the laws in your heart.” And we call that [being] born again.’

Lwilla and Swallo smiled and laughed, knowingly.

For two more days, these three African brothers continued smiling and laughing and thinking together very carefully through the remainder of Kinga Hebrews. Still, the text was not yet ready. Reviewers in the Kinga community must also agree. And as the Kinga New Testament approaches completion, the entire manuscript must be reviewed and typeset.

It will soon be planting season on the Kinga mountainsides. Good seed will receive summer rain and grow. The same will soon be true of God’s seed; his word ‘in the beautiful language of Kinga.’

This blog post is adapted from a story which originally appeared on Wycliffe Global Alliance’s website. Read the original story here.

Discover more stories from the Mbeya-Iringa cluster project!

Lifted out of depression by good news

Monday, January 16th, 2017 by Camilla

John and Anita have given their lives to teaching others about Jesus and together, they’ve lead many in Shaikarawe, Botswana to faith.

Both describe the stark contrast between their lives now and the lives they lived outside of knowing God years ago. Although Anita attended church from a young age, she wasn’t always a believer.

out-of-depressionJohn also heard the Bible early on in life but struggled to believe until much later. It wasn’t until after he had married Anita that his life changed forever. John is partially deaf in both ears, and he has to work hard to make sure he catches people’s conversations. This disability has made it difficult for him to find work. He says that about four years ago, he fell into a deep depression about his life. He would spend all day at his house, barely moving.

Anita was already a believer by this time and had just received a Bible from a local missionary. Worried about John, she brought a Setswana translated Bible to him one day and left it by his side while he was sleeping.

John says, ‘When I got the Bible, it was like my mind stopped working. I read the Bible for three days, just reading, reading.’

The hunger to know more and more continued to grow in John. Soon, he was carrying this Bible with him everywhere and telling everyone he met about the good news inside. Anita and John are now very involved in their local church, and John is studying to learn to read the San dialect of Khwedam, his heart language, just so he can understand the word of God better. He is passionate about making sure the San people have the opportunity to read the Scriptures in words that will make the most sense and be the most relevant in their lives.

‘I must know what the Bible means in my own language.’

With purpose and focus, Anita and John will continue to live in order to lead others to their creator and saviour.

And as John likes to say, ‘The Bible is with me and in me, from the heavens to the ground.’

Interested in supporting the work of Bible translation? Find out more on how you can go, give or pray.

For more pictures and the full original story, check out our partner The Seed Company’s website.

It’s the first time I have understood

Thursday, January 12th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

If you have read ‘Standing in the Gap’ for some time then you may remember praying, back in May 2014, for the Karon project which we brought to your attention in ‘a new start in Senegal’. Back then the project was just starting and we told you that the plan was to  translate Luke’s gospel over four years and use it to dub the JESUS film too.

Here is how God has answered your prayers: the team have published Luke in print and audio form and we are delighted by the news found in this excerpt from a report.

‘We have been encouraged to hear that the recently published translation of Luke’s Gospel has been well received by the Karon community, particularly the audio recording. One man commented: “Now, when I’m going to work this is what I listen to. I have listened to it over and over, and it is excellent! It is the first time I have understood the life of Jesus!”

A bar owner in an island village has reportedly been playing the Luke recording every day from morning to night for the benefit of his customers. Anyone who goes to hang out in his bar – probably most people in the village – has been hearing the word of God in Karon.

Another encouragement is that our first print run seems to be selling out fast, and the demand is such that we will probably need to think about printing more copies soon.’

Give thanks that people have such enthusiasm for hearing God’s word in their own language.

Please pray:

  • that people will be so gripped by God’s word in Karon that they will want to listen to it and read it over and over again.
  • that they will not quickly get bored of it once the novelty of having materials in their own language dies away, but that they will keep chewing over these words until they work their way into their hearts and transforms their lives.

The team are now working on translating the book of Acts into Karon. Their first consultant check is scheduled for 13-17 March. The team ask that we pray for:

  • ‘the consultant check in March, when we hope to go through Acts chapters 1-11 with a qualified translation consultant, who will help us to make sure that our translation is as accurate and clear as we can make it. Pray for God’s protection during this week, as Satan is always eager to hinder our consultant checking time.’

Interested in praying regularly for  translation projects? Sign up to receive our magazine ‘Words for Life‘ which is packed full of interesting articles as well as our prayer diary giving daily prayer needs.

Joy to the Bilo!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 by Jo Johnson

As Christians living in the West, the words of the Christmas story from the gospels of Luke and Matthew are very familiar to us; we hear them at carol services and nativity celebrations every year. However, to the Bilo* people of Southeast Asia, who don’t yet have these gospels in their language, the Christmas story is brand new.

view-of-the-hill-2The good news however is that Bible translation is underway for the Bilo. The translation team have been working on Luke. Sadly it won’t be ready for Christmas but the team was not deterred. Having decided that they did not want the Bilo people to be without the Christmas story in their language for even one more year, they have compiled a booklet containing the relevant passages from both Matthew and Luke’ consultant checked and will be distributed to all the churches in the region by Christmas.

Not being content with just providing the story, the team have put together questions so that the local churches can use the booklet as a basis for a Bible study. Praise God that even churches who don’t normally celebrate Christmas are eager to receive this booklet!

The booklet will also be distributed on mobile phones both as a document and hopefully as an audio recording as well, as more people will want to listen to the Christmas story than are able to read the local language. This will be the first time they have read or heard the story of Jesus’ birth in their own language!

Some of the churches are readily accessible, but others are in quite remote villages and in at least one case, to get there you need to negotiate a difficult river crossing.

Please pray that:

  • The booklets reach all the churches in time for Christmas and are joyfully received
  • Pray that people outside, as well as inside the church, will listen to the story, hear the good news and come to know Jesus as their Immanuel

*Name changed for security reasons.

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