The priority of getting God’s Word into Middle Eastern people’s heart languages.

By August 4, 2006

Middle East (MNN) — The Middle East conflict has raged for more than Three weeks and doesn’t appear to be coming to an end soon.

But there’s a different way of looking at the situation, says Bruce Smith of Wycliffe Associates, who urges believers to look at the situation with a new perspective. “This is just a dimension to the challenges that are taking place in the Middle East which are not always visible to the naked eye or to the news reporters that are working in that arena. And from our perspective we just want to encourage people to look at the news today and to be aware that there’s another issue at stake here: do all these language groups have Scripture? That’s our commitment at Wycliffe Associates and working along with our partners.”

Wycliffe Associates works to assist Bible translation efforts worldwide, by coming alongside translation teams to perform support role tasks, enabling the translators to focus primarily on Bible translation. Smith says it’s about being the Body of Christ to accomplish tasks together, “One of the unique aspects of this that Wycliffe Associates is focused on is getting ordinary Christians involved in support functions to help these language teams be more effective.”

Smith says teams in various parts of the world may involve both expatriates and nationals to effectively and accurately translate God’s Word. Though strategies vary from area to area, Bible translation takes place worldwide in partnership with the local people.

Unrest, political upheaval, natural disasters and other circumstances make translation all around the world more challenging. But Smith says, translation teams expect obstacles to their work and accept it as part of the challenge, because it’s worth it to get God’s Word into people’s heart languages.

But they don’t give up, says Smith. “It’s certainly disruptive to that process. Anytime there’s an increased security concern, obviously you’ve got concerns for team members. In some cases we’re actually working on translations in Diaspora communities.” Large numbers of many people groups live outside their country of origin.

Is there hope for peace and reconciliation? Smith says, ultimately, that’s the mission of what they do. They don’t see a higher priority for their mission than to get the truth of Scripture, the truth of the Gospel, into every one of the cultural groups that’s involved in the situation in the Middle East and in other groups around the globe. That’s what will bring peace and reconciliation.

“Personally as a Christian observing this scene and someone who’s involved with missions, I believe that the truth of the Word of God is probably the only solution. Economic solutions, political solutions, all of these other things that have been tried and failed, are probably going to fall to the wayside, and ultimately it’s only going to be the changes in men’s hearts that’s really going to change the situation in the Middle East.”

What part can Christians around the world play? Smith says there’s much to be done in support of other believers and to aid translation efforts. As Christians hear the news, especially now about the Middle East, they should realize that there are believers working and praying around the world, hoping for the day that God’s Word will be available to bring light and peace to all peoples. We have to recognize the complexity, it’s not just a matter of Jews and Arabs, it’s not a simple either-or. It’s a very complex mosaic of cultures and languages, histories and perspectives about what the issues are there in the Middle East. “So let’s pray intelligently, and pray for those that are working in all ministries in that arena, because spiritual reconciliation is really what’s needed in that arena.”

Contact Wycliffe Associates if you’d like to be know more about assisting Bible translation efforts through support roles around the world.

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