Transformation trends: from terrorist to Bible translator

By May 3, 2021

Middle East/North Africa (MNN) — Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of prayer and fasting, began in mid-April and ends on May 12. God often moves powerfully during Ramadan to reach Muslims for Christ. See our full coverage here.

That’s one reason why church leaders across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are working hard to get Scripture in their language. “The Church is exploding in this region of the world; people are coming to Christ,” unfoldingWord CEO David Reeves says,

“Many key leaders were former terrorists. You’ve got leaders that come to Jesus, love Jesus now, [and] they’re doing Bible translation.”

With tools and resources from unfoldingWord, these believers can do church-centric Bible translation. A new unfoldingWord project equips church networks in 19 MENA countries, from the farthest corner of North Africa to the Middle East.

“These church networks are trying to translate the Bible in their language. They’re going to struggle if all they have available to them are English resources,” Reeves explains.

“We put the tools [and] resources in Modern Standard Arabic.”

Equipping the Church to work

These believers may come from an Islamic background, but their passion for Christ is unmatched. They’re carving out a new space in the MENA Church.

“[It’s not] the Church that’s been in that region of the world for 2,000 years. We’re talking about the Church that is organically growing, rapidly growing, because so many people are coming to Christ,” Reeves says.

“In the midst of all that, they want Scriptures in their language.”

By putting translation tools and resources into a “trade language” – Modern Standard Arabic – unfoldingWord makes them accessible to all.

Learn more about unfoldingWord’s approach here. Passion and commitment may be equal throughout all Muslim-background communities, but specific needs vary. “You’ve got both ends of the spectrum of church networks,” Reeves says.

(Photo courtesy of unfoldingWord)

One end of the spectrum contains “brand new believers who are on that journey towards maturity in Christ. In other cases, hundreds of New Testaments are ready for checking, and they’re saying, ‘could you help us check these texts? We want to be sure that they accurately reflect, as close as possible, the Greek and Hebrew – the original languages’,” Reeves says.

“There was an organization here in our office last week with 125 New Testaments ready for that kind of checking.”

Find your place in the story

You can give online here to support church-centric Bible translation through unfoldingWord. Most importantly, please pray. Pray God will raise both field workers and financial supporters to make His Word available in new languages.

Ask the Lord to protect believers from a Muslim background, and give them courage.

“One of the guys… had his house burned down recently because he’s a Christ-follower. Other Christians are going to be persecuted; some people will lose their lives over the next several years because of all this,” Reeves says.

“But they are so deeply committed to this, and they will not stop. They know that’s part of the cost,” he continues.

“Because we’re dealing with straight-on spiritual warfare across this region, prayer is the greatest need – without a doubt.”

Fill out the “Contact Us” form and mention this article to receive prayer requests from unfoldingWord. “Prayer is the most essential component, and we’re revamping our website to make information about prayer needs readily available,” Reeves says.



Header image courtesy of unfoldingWord.