Wycliffe Associates forges new tools for Bible translation in Indonesia

By August 9, 2012

Indonesia (MNN)
— Here's a little "geo" quiz for you:
what country is made up of thousands of islands and boasts over 250

Answer: Indonesia.

President and CEO Bruce Smith says this is also why they've made
the country a high priority for Bible translation work. "Many of them are
not literate in their first language, let alone in a second or third language,
so a lot of the communication of Scripture and the Gospel has to be in oral

Associates is an international
organization that involves people in the acceleration of Bible translation. They're providing tools to help by way of
building a translation center in West Timor. Already about halfway through a 5-year building project, they're raising
funds to complete it. "The teams in that area are working on 23 languages,
and they've already identified 80 additional languages in this region alone
that are still without one verse of Scripture." 

Smith says the
urgency is building, too. While Portuguese and Tetun are the official languages
of Timor, they are not the functional languages for people groups in many areas
of the country. Smith explains that entire
generations have grown up speaking local languages. "Really, the whole testimony of Indonesia
for the past 50 years is the responsiveness of people when they hear the Gospel
in a language and a form that they understand."

Smith goes on to say that the diversity of the region means there are
a lot of challenges. That clarifies
their mission. "There is a real mixture of religious organizations and
denominations that are active there. So, making sure that Christians have the resources
that they need and especially having Scripture in a language that they understand
is a part of assuring that they have what they need to survive the challenges
that are there and to grow in their faith."

"It is heartbreaking to think these isolated
people might believe God doesn't care enough to speak directly to them," says Smith.

"What if you
heard the Gospel in a language you only partly understood? Think about what it
would be like to live without your favorite Scripture verse," says Smith.

According to
Rev. Gabriel Brea, a national Bible translator in West Timor, the people are
asking why they don't have Bibles in their own language. He adds that without
Scripture in their own language, "people don't really understand it. It doesn't
penetrate their hearts."

Associates provided construction materials and volunteers to complete two
building phases of a translation center in West Timor. The first phase of this five-year project was
the renovation of an office building to create administration space. "The second part was to create
some additional classroom space for the teams that come and go. Those two
phases are already complete.

The third
phase is to add some dormitory and guest space so that as these students come
and go from other parts of this area of southeast Indonesia, they have a place
to stay while they're there." Right
now, donations toward Wycliffe Associates'
translation efforts in Timor and the surrounding islands of Indonesia will be
matched by anonymous donors.

there are currently working with 23 languages groups and are also recording and
videotaping recently translated Scriptures in a sound studio built by Wycliffe

Associates involves people in accelerating the work of Bible translation
through their time, talents, and treasure. Because millions of people around
the world are still waiting to read the Scriptures in the language of their
heart, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as they can to translate every
verse of the Bible into every tongue to change every heart.

The organization
partners with nationals, mother tongue translators, staff, volunteers, and
supporters to direct and fund these efforts, as well as provide logistics,
networking, and technical support. Through a growing global network, Wycliffe
Associates is striving to overcome local limitations of time and resources to
achieve the goal of beginning the translation of God's Word in every remaining
language that needs it by 2025.

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