Bible translators celebrate global progress but note remaining needs

By June 14, 2022

International (MNN) — With any group project, it’s essential to know who is doing what so you’re all on the same page. Apply that concept to the global “group project” of Bible translation, and you have the Forum of Bible Agencies International or FOBAI.

“[FOBAI] includes names that some readers and listeners may be familiar with, like Wycliffe USA, Seed Company, and United Bible Societies,” DOOR International’s Rob Myers says.

FOBAI also includes “organizations in ‘niche’ areas, like DOOR and Deaf Missions, Deaf Bible Society – organizations involved in sign language Bible translation.”

Members meet annually to coordinate and collaborate, and all FOBAI members work toward a common goal – getting God’s Word to everyone who needs it. “There are still whole people groups that don’t have access to any Scripture in their heart language,” Myers says.

“If they don’t speak more than one language, they’re effectively completely cut off from Scripture.”

During annual summits, FOBAI members address questions like, “How do we make sure that the translations are good quality and that the communities are well supported?” Myers says. Indigenous input on the process is equally important.

(Photo courtesy of DOOR International)

“It’s critical that [translation is] not just a Western effort – going in and translating for communities – but that it’s built from the ground up through indigenous work.”

FOBAI works hand-in-hand with Every Tribe, Every Nation (ETEN), another Bible translation cooperative, to accomplish its Scripture access goals. Each co-op has a different focus, Myers explains. While FOBAI focuses on translation quality and standards, ETEN concentrates on objectives and progress.

So what?

These “top-level” meetings and planning matter because they trickle down to impact individual lives. See how many people now have access to God’s Word in their heart language.

Despite great progress, significant needs remain. For example, Deaf people are starving for God’s Word, the Bread of Life. Only one sign language has a complete Bible, and fewer than 50 sign languages have any completed translation work.

“We think there are about 375 sign languages [worldwide]; the official number being used right now is 374 [sign languages] that are in need of sign language Bible translation,” Myers says.

Learn how you can help the Deaf know God through DOOR International.



Header image depicts a sign language Bible translator’s workstation. Photo courtesy of DOOR International.