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Wycliffe Associates celebrates 50 years of supporting Bible translation

By March 10, 2017

International (MNN) — This year, Wycliffe Associates is celebrating its 50th year of assisting Bible translators around the world.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

“Our mission has been, and continues to be, involving people in the advancement of Bible translation,” Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, said in a recent press release. “But over the years, many things have changed. The people involved are increasingly international. The tools are now computer hardware and software technology. And the quality and progress in Bible translation is absolutely unprecedented.”

Wycliffe Associates was founded in 1967 after three men — Bill Butler, Dale Kietzman, and Rudy Renfer — realized that Bible translators with Wycliffe USA were spending too much time on tasks that slowed down the translation process. They eventually formed a group of business-minded people who didn’t necessarily feel called to the mission field, but wanted to support translation efforts with their skills in areas such as technology, accounting, and education.

“We still do those very same things. It’s just that the difference today is, where the translators 50 years ago were primarily Americans going into foreign environments to do the translation, today the translators are people who live in those countries,” Smith says. “They’re the local Christians, the local people in the culture, in the language, and so the services they need to help them be successful have changed over the years and we’ve adapted with that.”

One of these changes was the MAST program, which was implemented in 2014. MAST — Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation — is a collaborative approach to translation that rapidly sped up the translation process. By 2025, Wycliffe USA hopes to start a Bible translation process in every language.

“Our breakthrough MAST strategy is accelerating Bible translation beyond anything we could have imagined, even a couple of years ago,” Smith said in the press release. “It is not Westerners going into remote areas — it’s nationals being equipped to translate God’s Word themselves.”

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

According to Wycliffe USA, 1,800 languages still lack a Bible translation. Wycliffe is working hard to meet those needs, but it takes a group of people and a variety of skills to make it happen. Through Wycliffe Associates, there are plenty of ways you can use your own skills to support translation efforts, as well as join the workers in prayer.

“The opportunities are similar today that they have been in recent years,” Smith says. “We still engage a lot of volunteers in service opportunities to support translation around the world, so anybody that’s interested in using their skills and experience that God has given them as part of a team to help accelerate Bible translation, we’d love to talk to them.

“I just encourage people and invite them to celebrate with us what God has done over the 50 years, but to sort of rededicate ourselves to the task ahead. He’s called us to a task that is not yet finished, and we want to press on and persevere obediently.”

Click here to learn how you can get involved.

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