Access and engagement: the pre-literate and Bible translation

By October 5, 2018

Int’l (MNN) – Bible translation is about more than putting words on a page. To change lives, the Bible must be both read and understood.

Russ Hersman Chief Operations Officer for Wycliffe Bible Translators explains that Scripture engagement is vital to understanding who God is and who His people should be.

“If you’re going to be a disciple of Christ, a follower of Christ, you need to know what’s expected of you and you’re going to find that in the Bible. You’re not going to find it in the newspaper or somewhere else, you’re going to find it in reading God’s word. This is what He’s written for us and so you have to read it, you have to study it.”

Bible Engagement in Pre-Literate Communities

However, for some, studying the Bible is a far-off problem. Simply reading Scripture is a challenge.

Many of the communities Wycliffe works in are pre-literate or just becoming literate. Wycliffe translators must spend time in basic literacy work as well as translation work. They start by teaching people to read and write so that they can use the Bible, both individually and corporately.

Once they have taught basic literacy skills, Wycliffe helps communities learn how to glean applicable truth from their Bibles.

“So we give them access to it, yes, but also we encourage them through the use of it, workshops, and leadership training and things like that to actually use their Bibles in really meaningful ways.”

New Bible Translation Projects

This type of Scripture engagement is a big part of Wycliffe’s work, but there is still the issue of access.

“There are over 1500 languages in the world today that still don’t even have a program begun to translate the Bible into their language,” Hersman explains. “So when you talk about access, those are the people who have zero access to the Bible right now in their language. So you can pray that God will just continue to open up more and more ways to get those Bible translation programs started.”

(Photos courtesy of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA)

The task is great, but God is opening doors through Wycliffe and other organizations. The Bible is reaching new places.

“We’re watching the greatest acceleration of this that the world, and the Church, has ever seen. But we want to see it going even further and faster. So if you think of it as a countdown, we’re looking to see that 1500 number be zero.”

Get Involved

Hersman encourages Christians to pray that their brothers and sisters around the world would dive into the Bible wholeheartedly. “And that as people get the Scriptures they would just fall in love with the Scriptures and they would love to spend time in them, reading them, studying them, immersing themselves in God’s Word.”

Join Wycliffe Bible Translators in carrying out the Great Commission. Support their work financially and by helping others to become passionate about Scripture access and engagement here at home.


Header photo courtesy of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

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