Why Bible Translation Day matters for today’s U.S. Church

By September 30, 2019

USA (MNN) — Today is International Translation Day, an occasion marked each year by the United Nations. It’s rooted in a remembrance celebration of Saint Jerome, a highly-influential early Church leader.

“Saint Jerome in his Study” by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Saint Jerome translated most of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin, which helped John Wycliffe translate God’s Word into English. As described in this thorough summary, Wycliffe’s handwritten manuscripts are the first known English Bible translation.

Each year, Wycliffe USA marks September 30th as Bible Translation Day. Read this post to learn how it also became a U.S. resolution.

Wycliffe executive Jennifer Holloran says getting God’s Word into every language is an essential yet monumental task – one that requires the help of every believer. “There is absolutely still a need for Bible translation,” she says.

“There are still more than 2,000 languages around the world that don’t have any Scripture at all.  Our hope is to see something started in every language by 2025.”

Bible translation and the Church

As described here on Wycliffe USA’s website, there is plenty to celebrate on Bible Translation Day. Complete Bibles are available in 650 languages, and more than 1,500 language groups have access to the New Testament and Scripture portions.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA)

At the same time, great need remains. At least 7,000 spoken or signed languages* are in use today, and 2,000 languages* still need Bible translation work to begin.

The clock is ticking. Wycliffe has slightly more than five years remaining to see Bible translations begin in every remaining language. They won’t reach their goal without collaboration, Holloran says.

“We worked with some other organizations to start a global partnerships team that helps us to collaborate together well. And, there are now more than 20 translation and missions organizations working on this together; so, we’d love to see more,” she continues.

“We want the U.S. Church to also see themselves in Bible translation because we believe this is part of being the body of Christ.”

Next steps

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA)

There are currently 25,000 U.S. churches partnering with Wycliffe USA in prayer for Bible translation work. “We really want to put a call out to U.S. churches to be involved, to connect with us, and to be a part of this exciting era in Bible translation,” Holloran says.

“Maybe there’s a project and a place that they have a heart for and they might want to financially support that work; or, [maybe] they want to send people to go and be a part of that work.”

Talk to God, and find your place in the story. If He’s moving you to give, click here to see a list of translation projects that need support. Or, if He’s calling you to “go”, you can connect with Wycliffe’s mobilization team here.

“We want to ‘partner back’ with the church as well,” Holloran says, “because we know that churches are wrestling with issues and they need resources.” Reach out to Wycliffe USA here for Bible engagement help, or check out the Resources page.  You can also click here to become an ongoing prayer partner, or start a conversation about Bible Translation Day on social media

Prayer is the most important response of all.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA)

Ask God to help communities all around the world receive His Word in their own language. Pray for communities and governments (even if you don’t know them by name) to be prepared to welcome and receive translation work and, ultimately, the Gospel. Pray for mother-tongue translators, exegetical consultants and other critical workers to be raised up and strengthened for the task.

If you don’t know what to pray for, ask the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf. Trust that God will accomplish His will as He deems best. Find more prayer resources here.


*Many sign languages are still being identified, so this number may increase.



Header image courtesy of Wycliffe USA.

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