Soft skill necessary for covert Bible translation ministry

By November 22, 2019

International (MNN) — Wycliffe Associates is a veteran in Bible translation ministry with over 50 years of experience. One thing the organization has learned is that in order to be a good Bible translator and printer, you must be a good listener.

Bruce Smith with Wycliffe Associates says a significant part of their Scripture distribution process requires listening to local Church partners to understand the unique obstacles they face and how to address them.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

“For example, we had a design for an online tool for Bible translation. They said, ‘Look, it’s got to be offline.’ So that helped us adjust in that direction.”

Also, Smith says, “We talked about their needs for printing. Most historically, printing has always been done internationally, shipped through customs and all that kind of stuff. They said, ‘Look, we can’t do all that. We’re going to have to be able to print it locally.’ So we created our Print On Demand strategy.

“We have just maintained a posture that said they know best what their local situation is, and the best thing we can do is listen and respond to those unique demands and challenges that they’re trying to overcome.”

Listening to the Persecuted Church

Listening to the local Church is especially crucial in areas hostile to Christianity. After all, local believers know better than anyone how to safely distribute God’s Word and carry out covert ministry.

In most cases, Wycliffe Associates meets with persecuted Christians outside of their hostile environments in safe locations. There, they discuss Bible translation and printing needs, and provide training.

“We’re providing them [with] technology that they can sort of hide in plain sight — stuff that’s not too suspicious but stuff that enables them to print out their copies of Scripture…as they’re needed or as they’re translated,” Smith says.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

“We have very actively internationalized our team in recent years so that when we’re working in Asia, we’re working with Asian staff members who are in that arena. When we’re working in Africa, again, it’s Africans. So we’ve got far fewer Americans sort of drawing attention to ourselves as we’re circulating around the world. [We] are working much more through church partners and local intermediaries who are experienced with our Bible translations, technology, and training.

“That has helped improve the security situation for the people that we’re working with in the most difficult situations.”

Growing Thirst for God’s Word

Wycliffe Associates didn’t anticipate how quickly the equipment would wear out for their Print On Demand strategy, not due to lack of quality equipment but because the local people were using it constantly.

“It’s hard for us to grasp…the thirst for Scripture that exists in these places…. I think it’s just because they’ve been living in darkness and in hopelessness for so long that when the light of the truth comes in and when hope comes in, they naturally seek it and are very active in pursuing it.”

To meet the growing demand for Scripture, Wycliffe Associates is increasing the capacity of Print On Demand equipment and placing them in strategic locations around the world.

It’s Going To Take the Whole Church

However, this won’t come cheap. The whole set-up for higher capacity printing and binding equipment rings a hefty $25,000 price tag.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

This is where Wycliffe Associates needs the Body of Christ to link arms with them. First, you can partner with their ministry financially.

Smith says, “We would love for [Christians] to make Bible translation a priority in their stewardship. We make that as easy as we possibly can, both online and in the mail. We’d be glad to talk to them by phone as well about how they could put Bible translation in their stewardship priorities.”

Click here to donate to Wycliffe Associates’ Bible translation and printing efforts!

To contact Wycliffe Associates, click here.

As Wycliffe Associates responds to increasing requests for Scripture, would you pray for wisdom?

“We’re actually being overwhelmed with requests. So what we have to do is be very strategic in our response to those so that we can have the greatest possible impact for the people that are thirsty for God’s Word.”

Smith asks, “Pray that this thirst that has really been stirred by the Holy Spirit worldwide for God’s Word will be quenched by the response of having the right resources in the right places at the right time.”



Header photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates.

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