Yemen (MNN) — Yemen drips with conflict. The Houthi movement has made extremism and violence commonplace, and even in areas where there are ceasefires, tension weighs on local minds. Food security, illness, and bloodshed are far too common.
The presence of Jesus is badly needed, and yet there are 34 million unreached people across 20 million people groups. That means 34 million people in Yemen have never heard the Gospel message.
What does it take to fill that void?
A localized translation of the Bible might be a good start.
But given the constant turmoil racking Yemen and the sparsity of the local Church, creating that translation is proving to be a challenge. Between extremist religious groups and a strong sense of tribalism, many Christians can face banishment or death for simply proclaiming their love of Jesus Christ, let alone translating Scripture.
“There’s a huge stronghold there because of their belief system – the things that they think they know about God, who He is, and what they believe to be true,” says Amy of Strategic Resource Group. “They’re so rooted in that – it’s not just what they believe, it’s part of their life and their culture.”
That’s why so few of Yemen’s Christians are able to share their stories with the rest of the world. “There’s a significant risk on people’s lives if they share these stories, and if they tell the good things that are happening,” Amy says.
But the Bible translation is still in the works. The believers working on the project put in fulltime hours working on the localization, all while weathering bombing and conflict. They’re working on the project while staying in hiding.
And yet: “God continues to draw [Christians] unto himself. [T]hey are being encouraged by that and seeing the fruit of what God’s doing in their lives and in live the people around them, which encourages them to continue on doing their work.”
For example, while working on the translation, some of the believers have felt called to writing their own worship songs. Not translating existing songs; they’re writing localized songs from scratch. “Now in their heart language, it has a deeper meaning and impact on their lives, because they’re able to understand it in a more complete and deep way.”
Want to help? The Church in Yemen needs your prayer. “Those of us who are aware of what’s happening and know what’s going on need to commit to prayer for the people that are doing the work for the people that God still wants to reach with his word. Pray that God would continue to soften their hearts so that they’ll be prepared to hear the word.”
Header photo courtesy of Unsplash.