Lois recently spent a week with us on work experience. Here are some reflections she shared with us.
Hi, I’m Lois, and last week I completed part of my work experience placement at Wycliffe’s Belfast office. Before these few days, my knowledge of Wycliffe was somewhat limited. I knew Wycliffe translated the Bible, but not much else. Now I’ve learnt so much about the projects Wycliffe is involved in around the world, and the different roles within the organisation.
At home, if I were to guess, I’d say my family and I have at least fifteen Bibles scattered around the house. With this in mind, it’s strange yet saddening for me, that one in five people worldwide cannot access a Bible in their ‘heart language’ - something I now realise has the ability to transform lives.
The process of Bible translation, as I’ve discovered, is a long and complex process. Initially, I found it almost unbelievable that it can take between twenty and thirty years to translate the sixty-six books of the Bible into a new language. It’s incredible that for a team of translators, alongside members of local communities, the completion of a new translation of the Bible into one of the world’s seven thousand languages is the product of a lifetime’s work. Even before the first word of one of the Gospels is translated, the languages of a region must first be mapped, and the structure of the language chosen for translation identified. Often, the writing system of a spoken language must be developed, and taught to the native speakers, all before translation commences.
Perhaps the most significant thing I’ve learnt is the importance of using a ‘natural’ translation of the Bible. Through comparing different English translations of the same verse, I now can appreciate the difficulties people may face reading the Bible in a trade language rather than their heart language.
Only by reading God’s word, written with a vocabulary we fully understand, that feels natural to us, will the meaning of it truly resonate within us and this is why I think the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators is so special.
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