Int’l (MNN) – In many ways, the Great Commission is a task of intention and urgency. This is especially true when it comes to Bible translation. Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, recently shared some exciting news.
“We have helped to launch 383 new Bible translations over the past 12 months. So that’s an unprecedented pace of new Bible translation starts.
“The interesting thing is what it has actually done is actually increase the demand of support from language groups that are still without Scripture who are looking for help starting their translations. We’re currently facing a backlog of about 600 languages now that are asking for assistance to train them with our MAST methodology and provide technical resources to help them get started.”
The uptick in requests has called for Wycliffe Associates to pick up the pace and shift into a new gear. They’ve established an astonishing goal to launch hundreds of new translation projects in less than 90 days from now.
MAST, or Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation, is Wycliffe Associate’s translation support methodology. Through collaboration with mother-tongue translators in the field, this method is dramatically reducing the translation process from several years to months.
Teams trained in the MAST methodology are positioned around the world. They are ready and scheduled to work with different translations groups. This involves on-site training and support to make sure translation teams have what they need for high-quality translations.
“We have partners that are ready, willing, and able to begin these translation projects. What they need is training and some technical resources to get them out of the gate,” Smith says.
Because the training quickly multiplies the number of people equipped to work in the translation, more projects can be started and finished, all while ensuring there is the proper focus on each individual project.
To see hundreds of projects started within the next 90 days is an incredible and, as Smith puts it, unprecedented goal. But the urgency is justified with the number of people who still have not heard God’s Word in a way they can understand in their hearts.
“The concentration of these groups are in Asia and in Africa. Those are the two regions of the world that have the greatest number of Bibleless people remaining in the world. They’re really spread throughout a whole host of countries.”
More specifically, the focus in on Southeast Asia and in the Pacific as well as Central Africa.
Along with the training and the support teams, this kind of project requires technology. One of the tools Wycliffe Associates is utilizing is a tool that is being integrated into many fields: the tablet. Wycliffe Associates calls the program “Tablets for National Translators”.
“These tablets are about $300 apiece. We look forward to engaging between 1,000 and 1,500 translators in these languages in the coming weeks with multiple translators working on each language.”
The cost of this project adds up quickly. The total funding Wycliffe Associates is raising for the launch is around two million dollars. But compared to the costs of translation launches in the past, $20,000 per language is a very low cost.
And the impact of these projects is priceless.
Smith says recently, he received word from a group of Deaf Christians in central India who, until recently, had no contact with Scripture. They were not bilingual, and their sign language was limited to their area.
Smith shares, “In a workshop that we did this past summer, they began translating Scripture into their sign language for the very first time. The message I received is that they’ve now got a church planted entirely of Deaf believers–about 45 Deaf believers there. And they’re reaching out into their community of Deaf for the first time ever.”
Through Bible translation, this sort of thing is happening in hearing and Deaf communities all around the world.
“We’re excited that God has opened these doors and we see God’s provision increasing every day. This is a great season for people to become involved in Bible translation and come alongside of us.”
If you would like to join Wycliffe Associates in this audacious goal, visit their website here. You’ll find opportunities to pray, give, and volunteer.
You can also call 1-800-THE-WORD for more information.