Scripture translation in Indonesia

By September 19, 2018

Indonesia (MNN) – 87 percent of Indonesia’s population is Muslim. Though there are 24 million Christians in the island nation, believers only make up about 10 percent of the population.

Here, believers face discrimination and persecution because of their faith.

Over the years, there have been reports of Church bombings, beatings, and believers who have been killed.

Encouraged Believers in Indonesia

However, Wycliffe Associates’ Bruce Smith says the persecution in the nation hasn’t deterred believers’ faith. If anything, it’s rallied them.

“It’s essentially galvanized them and inspired them to be bolder and to be more committed and effective in their own proclamation of the Gospel and their commitment to Bible translation. It is by no means discouraging them,” Smith says.

“It is encouraging them because it’s a reminder to them daily that, really, the only thing that’s going to drive the darkness out of their country is the light of God’s Word.”

This encouragement and reminder have essentially motivated believers and their communities to get involved in Wycliffe Associates’ Bible translations so they can have scripture in their minority languages.

Scripture Translation with Locals

In Indonesia, there are more than 700 languages that are spoken on major and minor scales. The urgency to translate scriptures into them is high – this is why Wycliffe Associates sees the benefits of working hand in hand with local communities at a fast pace.

“They have a sense of urgency and they see the impact that the darkness has had on their people for generations, and they’re so thirsty and they’re so ready for that light of God’s Word to be clear and understandable, and accessible to their people, that they’re willing and ready to work an extraordinary level of investment in order to make this happen.”

Along with the sense of urgency among the people, Smith says working with local communities rather than bringing in foreign support helps to speed the translation process significantly.

“It eliminates the entire learning curve of trying to bring somebody from outside that language and culture up to speed in order to do the translation,” Smith says.

“[The people] know it. They’re steeped in it. They live in it every day and they’re fully knowledgeable about how to do that translation work. They’re also multi-lingual. So, they’re able to look at scripture in a major language for example and make the translation leap from that major language to their minority language much easier than we are.”

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

Further, Wycliffe Associates brings the whole community together as a ‘crowdsource’ approach. Bringing the community together, Smith says, helps to rally people in the work and encourage one another as they solve translation problems and details.

Quality Assurance

While these translations are exceedingly faster than bringing in outside workers, quality doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Rather, because the communities who are working on the translations are so familiar with their language and are passionate about receiving scripture in their own language, quality assurance is woven throughout the process.

Smith says these are people who are going to live and die with the quality of the translation.

“This is a sober process that the Church leaders enter into with great humility and a great sense of responsibility.”

The translation projects scattered throughout the nation have caught the interest of Church leaders and Smith says Wycliffe Associates is seeing an explosion for wanting translations across the country.

Right now, Wycliffe Associates has 30 Bible translation projects going. While this may seem high, Smith says this was only a short-term goal.

“The reality is that the thirst for God’s Word and the readiness to step up and start translation is at an all-time high, and the potential exists to start between one and two hundred new translations in Indonesia within the coming year.”

Get Involved

Hundreds of languages have yet to be translated into scripture in Indonesia.

Despite the persecution believers face, Wycliffe Associates sees the boldness in their faith and the desire to see the Bible translated into their languages.

Smith says the stories of persecution in the news should be a prompting to believers everywhere to pray.

“Be in prayer for the Christian work that’s going on in that country and for the Christian brothers and sisters, the leaders in the Church in Indonesia who are facing these kinds of threats and nevertheless, persevering.”

Come alongside Wycliffe Associates as they help equip and empower local communities in Indonesia to translate scripture. Help fund tablets, which are essential to the translating process. Click here for more information.

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