Middle East (MNN) – Imagine living in fear of an oppressive regime without being able to read a translation of the Scriptures in your own language for reassurance. Or residing in a place that is so geographically challenging that you don’t have any connections with people outside of your language group.
Both of these are realities for small pockets of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.
Recently, Wycliffe Associates learned about ten new language groups with small groups of Christians like these who don’t have any portion of Scripture in their own language.
Keeping the Faith
Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates explains, “There are pockets of Christian believers in each of these language groups. Somehow, generations ago, they heard the good news, and they’ve done their best to keep the faith all this time.”
Whether because of repressive governments or difficult terrain, these groups have remained largely cut off from other people, not to mention other Christians. For many, even disclosing their country or people group could put them at risk for persecution.
“Christians are extreme minorities in these countries,” said Smith. “In some of these areas authorities and traditional religious leaders are so threatened by believers that they lash out against them. Christians have to hide in order to survive. It’s hard to imagine how alone they’ve been.”
Seeking the Scriptures
Recently some from those language groups have made contact with Wycliffe Associates.
“[There are] 10 new languages throughout that region of the world, all of whom are asking for Scripture translation to begin. And so because they weren’t on our radar previously we’re now trying to rally the resources, both manpower and financially in order to be able to respond to these in a timely manner.”
However, these challenging situations are even more difficult because translators need to blend in. Often they are going to places where their work is generally unwelcome.
Smith continues, “Bible translation throughout that region of the world is obviously very difficult. It’s a place where foreigners are not able to move freely. It’s a place where foreigners actually draw and attract attention. And so we’ve got to move very carefully and discreetly in order to protect the security of the people that are taking this step of faith and risk in their environment, in order to bring God’s Word to their people.”
Supporting Translation Work
Despite the dangers, Wycliffe Associates supports indigenous Christians as they seek to bring the Bible to their own people with the Scriptures for New Frontiers program. They train local believers to help them translate Scriptures. They also support those local Christian leaders with translation technology, computer tablets with translation software, and digital Scripture distribution.
Yet all of this takes work, time, volunteers, and money. Since these groups only recently came into Wycliffe Associates vision, there is still a great need.
Smith explains that Christians have a unique opportunity to meet this need.
“And we can either be bystanders to this whole process, really which is an unprecedented season in the history of the world for God’s Word to move forward into these nations. We can either be bystanders or participants and we certainly want to encourage everyone to be participants along with us.”
Join in the Work
Please consider joining Wycliffe Associates today to provide the resources necessary to reach these new language groups. Pray that God would bring the volunteers necessary into this area of the world to train up local leaders for Scripture translation.
You can also join Wycliffe Associates financially to provide for these groups. If you would like to help supply the tablets and other technology needed for translation efforts, please click here.