Russian invasion triggers new translation work among Romani people

By July 11, 2022

Ukraine (MNN) — Russia’s gearing up for another major assault in eastern Ukraine, analysts say. The Kremlin is preparing for a lengthy war by mobilizing its economy and temporarily pausing military advances.

Nearly 5,000 people have died since Russia began its invasion at the end of February; more than 6,200 were injured. Estimated damages to civilian infrastructure exceed $100 billion.

Not every update from the Ukraine crisis is unfortunate. unfoldingWord is helping bilingual church planters in Ukraine translate Scripture into their heart language. “The primary leader [of this project] is an individual named Sam,” unfoldingWord’s Arne* says.

“He’s relocated [to] another Romani church, [and] he’s about ready to launch his second Romani project.”

From Russian to Romani

Through unfoldingWord’s Gateway Languages Strategy, church networks use tools and resources in a “gateway” language (Russian) to translate God’s Word into minority languages.

(Photo courtesy of unfoldingWord)

As described here:

More than 540 ethnic languages have bilingual connections to Russian. Translators who know Russian can use assets in this Gateway Language to quickly and accurately provide Scripture to those who speak the related ethnic languages.

While Bibles and Christian resources are widely available to the Romani in Russian, the Ruska Roma didn’t have any Scripture in their heart language until last year.

One believer told unfoldingWord, “This will increase the number of people who will have a living, real relationship with the Creator. There will be a less formal and ‘religious’ relationship with God. There will be an unfolding of the Word of God for this people.”

Believers need strength, endurance

Russia’s invasion forced Sam’s original team to scatter earlier this year. “When they’re not together, work slows down,” Arne says.

“We have seen quite some delay in their ability to do heads-down work on translation. Finding daily provisions takes up a lot [of] time; food, water, and all other necessities of life.”

Ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage Gospel workers in Ukraine. “Sam has suffered tooth damage over the last few months. [A] lack of good food and so forth doesn’t help,” Arne says.

“Wars have been going on since the beginning, but that doesn’t [make] it easy for the Church.”

Connect with unfoldingWord to help mobilize, train, and equip local church members throughout Eurasia.

“Nobody wants the war to extend into a NATO-type war or a broader coalition of East against West; that’s not going to be good for anybody. May the Lord intervene here and help us mortals find a way to escape this scenario,” Arne says.

“[Pray] the Church will thrive in these circumstances, [and] be a Gospel light in very dark times.”




Header image depicts Russian President Vladimir Putin and his long-time confidant, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, at a 2017 military parade.  (Wikimedia Commons)

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