Indonesia (MNN) ― In the midst of Islam-dominated Indonesia sits West Timor, a thriving Christian island. The Protestant and Catholic churches cover much of the island with a level of Christian faith, but over the years, the minority languages of Timor have never had a translation strategy for them, so that they might have the Bible in their own languages.
Several years ago, a vision was developed by a local pastor who began to translate the Bible in the regional Malay dialect, which about 300,000 people speak. He thought pastors and others would be upset with him for not using the broader Indonesian languages that had been there throughout the years. But when people realized they could understand the Bible in their own language, they were so excited. From that, translation projects began to spring up.
That's where The Seed Company stepped in to help. With the primary goal to see national translators become the translators for their people groups and to empower and equip them to do it, TSC thought helping with the translation of the Kupang Malay language would be strategic. But they had no idea what would come out of it.
Roy Peterson, President of TSC, says, "During these past three or four years we have watched a Bible translation movement just explode within the indigenous peoples of Timor."
"And so the Seed Company has been helping to sponsor the entire translation of this Kupang Malay regional language, and that has become the base foundation for a movement into all the minority languages on the island."
This movement is widespread, and TSC is now helping with the translations of 22 languages on the island of Timor. Peterson continues, "Twenty-two different people groups are getting the word of God because of this movement that's taking place. And there's another 20 that are waiting for us to come and help them, wanting to get started with the Scriptures also."
What's most exciting, says Peterson, is that this effort is nationally initiated, "The Seed Company is not doing these translations. These translations are being done by the Indonesian brothers and sisters themselves, and we come alongside and help them."
TSC helps with translation strategy issues, word choices, making sure it's true to the meaning of the Scripture, and other translation concerns. They are also providing encouragement, support and mentoring of the large task of Bible translation, says Peterson, "There's a tremendous amount of mentoring that's happening, but the beautiful thing in this situation is that these brothers and sisters are owning the project. They are going with it. They are so enthusiastic and we're just trying to keep up with them."
One of the biggest needs they have for their Timor translation work is a facility where translators can come and do their work together, be encouraged and have training to help them.
Peterson adds, "There's a senior church leader in the Timor Islands, and he said to us, 'It's a revolution that's beginning to happen in the churches here. People are hungry for the Word of God and these translations in the heart languages are feeding that hunger.' He's never seen this before; it's never been possible before to see this kind of translation taking place. And it's going on right now, right in the midst of all the trauma, of all the things we've been praying for in Indonesia, people who've been hurt and homeless. There's this incredible movement taking place in Timor."
With 1600 languages being translated around the world, Peterson says this is a great time in the history of Bible translation, and it's very exciting to be involved. "And I don't think most listeners have any idea this is happening. It's one of the most incredible movements anywhere in the world, and it's taking place today and people can be praying for the Timorese brothers and sisters."
Prayer and financial support are needed. Visit The Seed Company website to help. Follow the highlighted link above.