“Isn’t there someone who can learn my language and give us the message in words we can understand easily?” pleaded a Caquinte Campa woman in Peru after hearing the Bible read in another translation.
Without a Bible in her language, the Bible stories she hears by word of mouth can be confused. Most importantly, she may never hear the message of life through Jesus Christ. Bible translation can provide her and millions more with God’s Truth.
Why we Love Bible Translation
We love the way Bible translation work produces a people of the book. Without the written word people tend to quote the human messenger, the missionary. But where Scripture is available, people tend to quote the book. Without a firm understanding of God’s Word, the church is likely to remain weak and always an easy prey to false teaching.
We love the way a church is usually established as a result of Bible translation work. It happens as a result of the Word of God rather than the theological bent or cultural bias of the missionary. It safeguards the Good News from a Western flavour and allows the church to be established in truly culturally appropriate ways. And people say that Wycliffe is not into church planting and evangelism! It happens, but it is an indirect result of the presence of “the naked scriptures” in their midst. That is God’s word with the least possible foreign interpretation and application. Thus, the Holy Spirit does the primary interpreting and applying.
We love Bible translation work for what it does for the missionary. The translator is turned into a man or woman of the Word; driven to seek the fullest understanding of every word and phrase in Scripture, the translator gains a profound knowledge of God’s Word. What a dividend of that the deliverer of the Word should also become a primary receiver!
We love Bible translation work because it attracts intense opposition. Few ministries have come under such concerted, organised, high level opposition as Bible translation. What does this intense opposition tell us about the value of Bible translation? In spiritual warfare, the degree of opposition attracted by a ministry often accurately measures the effectiveness of that ministry. The opposition convinces us that Bible translation is supremely strategic, both to God and to his arch enemy.
We love the way Bible translation work leads to the translator being able to disciple the indigenous people who become his colleagues and assistants. The minds and souls of these co-workers become bathed in God’s Word and typically they become the pillars in the emerging church. As they carefully weigh each word and phrase of Scripture, they receive a better-than-bible-college grasp of Bible content. Could any other discipline give better preparation for church leaders?
A New Vision
At the 1999 rate of Bible translation activity it was estimated that it would take another 150 years to complete the task of Bible translation in the 3000 languages still needing Scriptures. We do not consider that is acceptable. To address this, the resolution dubbed “Vision 2025” was adopted in June 1999 at the International Conference of Wycliffe. “We embrace the vision that by the year 2025 a Bible translation project will be in progress for every people group that needs it.“