Increased internet availability shaves years off Bible translation

By March 9, 2011

International (MNN) — Technology has brought all sorts of new issues, debates, and dilemmas into the world, but it's also brought innovation that could hurl the Great Commission into motion.

Randall Lemley with The Seed Company says the development of PCs in the 1980's rocked the Bible translation world by speeding up the pace of translation. With recent satellite technology creating broadband internet capabilities for anywhere on the planet, however, the possibilities are significant.

These new advances allow Bible translation to happen literally non-stop, Lemley says. A mother translator in Africa can complete his work by day and send it to a translating consultant in the States. When the translator finishes, the consultant is just beginning her work for the day and can look over the translator's work. By the time she's finished, the translator will be waking up to the consultant's changes.

Innovations like this have taken away the limitations of Bible translation. It no longer has to be a foreign missionary working face-to-face with indigenous peoples for decades until the New Testament is complete. Lemley says on average, it takes about eight years to complete a translation now. Added internet activity can shave up to two years off that time.

Bible translators across the globe have set their eyes on Vision 2025, a goal to have a Bible translation project in motion for every language in the world by the year 2025. 2,000 languages remain, though. Even with added technology, can it really be done?

"If you had asked me that question two or three years ago, I'd say that 2050 was probably the more legitimate target," admits Lemley. "But God's up to something."

Technology has sped up translation work even in the most remote of areas, so that even without phone access, access to the internet is moving projects ahead.

"Now there's momentum building that we could indeed see the work of translation completed in our lifetimes, and by 2025 that those language-starts could occur," says Lemley.

Millions of people could be hearing the Gospel in their heart language for the first time in just 14 years.

Of course, there are a few key things needed to reach that goal. Prayer partners are desperately needed for specific language projects. Pray with The Seed Company daily here, or become a prayer partner.

Funding of course is also a necessity. The Seed Company's One Verse challenge allows participants to sponsor a specific verse of the Bible on a monthly basis. Learn more about that here.

Lemley says there is one other significant hurdle to jump, though.

"One of the biggest challenges in Bible translation is having skilled IT professionals. And there may be people that hear this today that say, ‘Maybe God has prepared me for a day such as this.'"

If you feel God tugging at you to pursue an IT career with Bible translating efforts, click here to contact The Seed Company today.

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