International (MNN) — This year alone Wycliffe Associates has over 600 requests to begin Bible translation. That means people who speak more than 600 different languages are praying for the Word of God in their mother tongue. It is the largest number Wycliffe has ever tackled and the task seems almost overwhelming.
For many years, Wycliffe Associate translators had to seek out people who would be willing to start a new translation. But now that problem is flipped on its head. Wycliffe Associates is beginning to seek new resources to keep up with the demand for Bible translation.
Clearly God is opening doors, but why now?
Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, poses two reasons for the new opportunities: a restructuring of the translation workshop methods and improved resources.
Empowering the local church for Bible translation
In 2014 Wycliffe Associates launched a collaborative translation workshop method called mobilized assistance supporting translation, or MAST. MAST allows local churches to be more heavily involved in translation than they have been in the past.
Smith explains that MAST equips local churches with the training and resources they need to work in conjunction with translators. With the tools they need, local church leadership and people well-versed in a mother tongue can work accurately and efficiently.
The MAST model passes decision-making power from foreign missionaries to put the stewardship of resources in locals’ hands. Smith says, “They can decide what the priority is for starting the translation, where they want to begin, how many people will be involved, how quickly it will continue, how it will be published, what form, all of those kinds of things. And it essentially puts all of those decisions into their hands for really the first time in a long time.”
Using modern tools to translate enduring truth
However, Wycliffe Associates is doing more than just coming alongside mother-tongue translators. They are providing local workers basic computer tablets through their Tablets for National Translators program.
Using tablets for Bible translation keeps the work mobile, easy to access, and safe. Tablets save work continuously so if a natural disaster or terrorist attack occurs, the work is not lost. It also provides a simple way for translators to check progress and critique each other’s work. This helps ensure accountability and faithful Bible translation.
Bible translations in the hardest places
MAST and new technology allow those who have the most experience with a language to help bring the Bible to life from the ground up. It gives the local Church a new sense of freedom and excitement about the work. And so, Bible translation is thriving despite pressure from antagonistic communities.
Smith explains, “The reason Bibles have not been translated in much of the world is because of the security and antagonism of surrounding majority religions around them. And so, as we press toward the goal of seeing every language in the world have a Bible in our lifetime– really by the year 2025– inevitably we end up in these same kind of arenas.
“So, interestingly that doesn’t prove to be a limiting factor in terms of the interest and the enthusiasm of the local believers in getting Scripture into their area. In fact it’s almost the opposite; the more dangerous and insecure the arena, the more committed and enthusiastic the local people are, because they know that it’s the only way to get light into a dark situation. And they want that for their own families and their neighbors, so they can have the Word of God available to them in a language they can understand.”
How can you help?
Bible translation is crucial. The Bible is within reach for so many who want to know God. Smith says this is the first time in years that so many people are willing and able to begin translation. But the problem is resources.
Smith asks for help: “We’re of course inviting people to look at this and consider Bible Translation as a priority in their own financial stewardship, to participate as a financial supporter. We certainly invite and desire people to be involved in prayer support as well. We have a number of prayer resources that people can engage with, so they can be praying effectively as Bible translation is underway and of course we certainly also still involve volunteers.”
Will you help today Wycliffe Associates translate the Bible into the more than 600 languages ready for translation?
Join Wycliffe Associates as a financial supporter and see your gifts bring the Word of God to those anxious to learn more about Christ. Pray that local workers accurately translate the Gospel this year, so more people might learn about Jesus. For more ways to pray click here.