Bible translation work in Nigeria suffers from terrorism, the pandemic, and economic collapse

By October 21, 2020

Nigeria (MNN) — Many Wycliffe Associates’ Bible translators in Nigeria have been forced to halt or delay their work due to terrorist activity, COVID-19, and a lack of resources.

Important, Dangerous Work

The large Nigerian population is made up of many people groups, resulting in 500 spoken languages. Tabitha Price of Wycliffe Associates says this, combined with the Christian support system, has made the country an important location for Bible translation.

“They have seminaries, training centers, and a strong core of Christians who desire to reach beyond their own cities and their own walls in their own region,” she says.

Wycliffe partners with the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust in the city of Jos, which helps equip many translators with the tools and training they need.

africa, van

(Photo courtesy of Sergey Pesterev via Unsplash)

“We had a Wycliffe Associates staff member training key individuals in the software that we use on tablets, in the actual methodology for translation, so that they could take that back into the bush,” Price says.

However, the country has suffered from terrorist attacks for years, and the combination of these attacks and COVID-19 is taking its toll. Recent attacks from jihadist Fulani herdsmen have killed many, including a pastor. Price reiterates that this means travel to the city to complete the training and collaborate on projects is very dangerous.

“It’s a risk for anybody that travels that road [to Jos]. It’s known around Africa and even the world as a very dangerous route because of the terrorism and the kidnappings that take place. Even coming to the campus to do training is a challenge. It’s something that we really trust the Lord for [and] pray for His guidance.”

COVID-19 and the Economy

In addition to the terrorist threats, the pandemic has meant many translation projects have been slowed by travel restrictions.

“Many of the translators don’t live in the same village, same city, and because of the pandemic, they’ve not been able to get together. We’re talking villages without internet access, so they can’t be in touch with other translators,” Price says.

Other projects that were in training stages have been halted completely. Price says Wycliffe wants to reschedule training sessions once travel and gathering restrictions make it possible to do so.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

Many translators also find themselves facing unemployment and other challenges because of the economic crisis the pandemic has caused.

“The economic impact means that crime goes up and day laborers don’t actually have day jobs anymore, so they can’t feed their families,” Price says.

“In some instances, we’ve been amazed to see that translators have been able to spend more time on the translation, but let’s not ignore the fact that they’re out of a job. They don’t have the necessary food or the money to pay for their electricity in the places where that’s available.”

Get Involved

Price asks for prayer for these persecuted Nigerian believers.

“We should be spending time praying for our brothers and sisters who are starving, who are out of electricity, who are being persecuted. This pandemic is being leveraged against them. We need to be in prayer that God would protect them, provide for them in supernatural ways that would open the door for His kingdom.”

Wycliffe is providing emergency funds for translators in Nigeria who are out of work. You can give to help with these needs here. Wycliffe Associates also offers many volunteer and prayer opportunities.

“If this really resonates with you, I implore you to go look at all the ways that you can be [involved].”

Header image courtesy of Wycliffe Associates