Referendum approaches in Sudan

By December 17, 2010

Sudan (MNN) — Wycliffe Associates, the international organization that involves people in the acceleration of Bible translation efforts, announces the establishment of a Matching Challenge fund that allows contributions to be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $51,700. The funds will be used toward Bible translation support efforts in Southern Sudan, where teams of translators have returned to work after having fled the country due to civil war several years ago.

"We don't know how much longer the door to Southern Sudan will be open to us," says Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. "This country was ravaged by decades of bloody civil war. Now the country is officially under a 'temporary peace' and facing an extremely delicate referendum when Southern Sudanese will decide whether to become independent from the rest of the country. Nobody knows what will happen after the referendum — whether there will be lasting peace or a new outbreak of civil war."

Smith emphasizes that the need to continue moving forward with Bible translation projects is critical. Of the 111 languages spoken in Sudan, 54 languages do not yet have a single translated verse of the Bible. More people are without the Bible in Sudan than in any other nation of Africa.

The Juba Bible Translation Center that was closed in 1988 due to civil war has been reopened, and Wycliffe Associates is working to repair facilities that had deteriorated for two decades. Volunteer teams from Wycliffe Associates have painted guesthouse rooms, replaced electrical work, installed new plumbing systems and a septic drain field, and have built and installed kitchen cabinets. These efforts help provide classrooms, offices, workstations, and living space for translation teams working in Southern Sudan and help facilitate the training of national translation workers, who can provide continuity to translation projects in the event of another civil war.

Smith notes that Sudan is one of the most difficult mission fields in the world, where Christianity is a minority religion, representing 5 percent of the population. "We've got to seize every opportunity God places before us," says Smith, "and invest as much as we possibly can, as effectively and as quickly as we possibly can, for the cause of Christ." As one Sudanese told Bible translators, "We want to be led in the right way and know more about love…. We are backward because we are outside the Word of God…. Through the Bible, we can get the truth."

Wycliffe Associates involves people in accelerating the work of Bible translation by giving their time, talents, and treasure. Because millions of people around the world are still waiting to read the Scriptures in the language of their heart, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as they can to translate every verse of the Bible into every tongue to change every heart. The organization partners with nationals, mother tongue translators, staff, volunteers, and supporters to direct and fund these efforts, as well as provide logistics, networking, and technical support. Through a growing global network, Wycliffe Associates is striving to overcome local limitations of time and resources to achieve the goal of beginning the translation of God's Word in every remaining language that needs it by 2025.

In 2010, the organization mobilized 4,381 volunteer and staff members to accelerate Bible translation in some 59 countries. Additional information is available at the Wycliffe Associates Web site at or by calling 1-800-THE WORD (1-800-843-9673).

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