Middle East / North Africa (MNN) – One-fifth of the world’s Muslim population lives in the Middle East North Africa region, according to the Pew Research Center, and researchers expect that number to rise by 2030. Islam may have a stronghold as the MENA region’s majority religion, but significant change is underway.
“People who are passionate Muslims, some to the point of being radicals, are now transformed; Christ has transformed them,” unfoldingWord’s David Reeves says of church leaders from a Muslim background.
“That same zeal and passion, like the Apostle Paul, is now emerging in their passion for their language communities.”
As described here, these new believers want to translate God’s Word into their heart language. However, most translation tools are in English. By putting tools into a “trade language,” unfoldingWord makes them accessible to Christians throughout the MENA region.
For example, “If you’re translating John and you’re in chapter one, and you’re getting into these big ideas that are really confusing, there’s all these exegetical notes that would help explain it in Arabic,” Reeves says.
Why are translation tools important?
Without access to God’s Word in a language they understand, believers struggle to grow and mature in Christ. unfoldingWord partners closely with church networks to provide Bible translation tools and training. Learn more here.
Their approach differs slightly depending on each community’s need. “[In] some places, we’re starting with brand new believers who, six months ago, were imams and now they love Jesus. We’re dealing with Open Bible Stories in that context,” Reeves says.
“Two to three years down the road, we’ll be moving from select Scriptures to translating the books of the Bible.”
Radicalized factions exist across the MENA region, making Bible translation a dangerous and risky task. Thanks to translationCore, unfoldingWord’s custom interface, believers can translate God’s Word without being detected by government authorities.
“We have a set of software tools for helping translation; checking and creating these resources. All of them are designed to be offline first so that you don’t have to be connected to the Internet to get to them,” Reeves says.
Find your place in the story
It’s all part of an overarching translation initiative launched earlier this year. The project involves church networks throughout the MENA region, an expanse covering 19 countries and more than 370 million people.
Bilingual believers are spearheading the work, translating God’s Word into their community’s heart language. These individuals “are very deeply passionate about their relationship with Jesus, and they want their communities, their family, to know about this man who appeared to them [and] has become very real,” Reeves says.
“These men are much like the apostle Paul – a former zealot as a Jew, but then became a Christian. We see the same thing happening in this Middle East context.”
Fill out the “Contact Us” form here and mention this article to become an unfoldingWord prayer partner for the MENA region. “Prayer is the most essential component,” Reeves says.
Praise God for many Saul-to-Paul conversions taking place throughout the Muslim world! Pray for more resources and capacity so these believers can translate God’s Word into their heart language.