Wycliffe Associates sees growth spurt in SE Asia

By August 10, 2015


SE Asia (MNN) — SE Asia isn’t exactly known as a welcoming environment for Christ-followers.

“Officially, Christianity is at less than 2% in the entire area,” shares Wycliffe Associates’ Vice President, Brent Ropp.

“But we would venture to say that that number is actually growing quite rapidly, and it’s probably in the 8-10 percentile range, at this point.”

The Risk


Buddhism in the Himalayas.  (Wikimedia Commons)

Buddhism in the Himalayas.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Three of the five countries where Wycliffe Associates is assisting translators are on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List – a ranking of 50 countries where persecution is most severe. A fourth nation, ranked at #51, just missed the designation.

“Buddhism is the primary religion in all of the countries,” Ropp shares.

Persecution ranges in severity, from severe restrictions on Christian materials to physical abuse.

Despite potential risks, a group of local Christians has joined efforts to begin translating the Bible into their own language, even with minimal resources to carry the work forward.

The Reality

New believers are hungry for God’s Word, and they’re teaming up with translators to get Bibles in their heart language.

Wycliffe Associates provides the tools and training they need to get the job done.

“We’re using some new translation methodologies, but we’re also using technology,” says Ropp.

MAST training session (Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates via Facebook)

MAST training session
(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates via Facebook)

“Groups of people from one or more churches, from the same language community–working together with their pastors and church leaders–are able to work through passages of Scripture at surprisingly fast pace.”

The technique is called MASTMobilized Assistance Supporting Translation.

Bilingual members of a minority language community team up with translators, using a majority language and tools provided by Wycliffe Associates, to get God’s Word into their native tongue.

In recent weeks, 13 believers from a minority language community in the Himalayas gathered with translators and Wycliffe Associates facilitators to try out the MAST process.

“In just two weeks, those 13 people were able to translate half of the New Testament,” Ropp shares.

How you can help

(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates)

(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates)

Because millions of people are still waiting to read Scripture in their heart language, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to get every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart.

Organized in 1967 by friends of Bible translators, Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators to provide God’s Word in their own language.

Last year, 2,544 Wycliffe Associates team members helped speed Bible translations in 73 countries–including those in Southeast Asia.

“We’re being inundated with requests for help with new translation projects all the time,” Ropp says.

You can help Wycliffe Associates meet the demand by praying, giving, or going.


(Graphic courtesy Wycliffe Associates)

(Graphic courtesy Wycliffe Associates)

The success of thousands of Bible translators and volunteers–at home and overseas–depends on the faithful prayers of God’s people everywhere.

Right now, thousands of dedicated Wycliffe Associates volunteers support the worldwide work of Bible translation in prayer every day.

Become a Wycliffe Associates Prayer Watch Partner.


(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates via Facebook)

(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates via Facebook)

As explained on Wycliffe Associates’ Web site, your gifts impact eternity as you:

  • Provide ministry support for missionaries and their families involved in Bible translation.
  • Construct airstrips, offices, translation centers, training centers, homes, schools, and meeting facilities at Bible translation sites all over the world.
  • Provide necessary equipment and tools for the work of Bible translation.
  • Respond practically to crises caused by unrest, disaster, or hostility that endanger missionaries and their families.
  • Recruit and provide skilled and trained volunteers to assist missionaries and translators.
  • Help others find God.

Help accelerate global Bible translation.


Wycliffe Associates has short-term missions opportunities available nearly every month from now through December.

Learn more and sign up here.

(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates)

(Photo courtesy Wycliffe Associates)


  • John P Wood says:

    As someone who is focused on ministry to the largest nation in Southeast Asia, I read with enthusiasm the article entitled “Wycliffe Associates Sees Growth Spurt in Southeast Asia”. I was hoping to be able to share the article with many of my friends. But then I saw the article say “Buddhism is the primary religion in all of the countries.” Yet I know that the largest of the region’s nations is majority Muslim, and that Wycliffe is also hard at work in this SE Asia nation. And I have spoken with friends who work with Wycliffe in Indonesia who are successfully using the MAST approach which you describe in the article.
    I hope that you can correct the error. And I do thank Wycliffe for this important step forward in getting the Word of God into many more languages at a much faster pace. Very important work, for which I praise God.

  • Katey Hearth says:

    Hi Mr. Wood,

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight, and we appreciate that you wanted to share our article with friends! You are 100% correct that Indonesia is a Muslim-majority nation, however, it was not one of the five mentioned by Mr. Ropp.

    While we can’t go into specifics for security reasons, Buddhism is the majority religion of most of the five countries talked about in this story.

    Thank you again for your concern, and for helping us ensure we’re presenting the most accurate information possible!

  • del archer says:

    Howdy John, It is becoming increasingly important to clearly differentiate between Wycliffe Associates (WA) (my former mission affiliation from 2001-2008) and (my current mission since 2009) Wycliffe USA aka Wycliffe Bible Translators.
    This article is EXCLUSIVELY WA related.
    They bear sole responsibility for any errors/omissions.
    The “Wycliffe” to which you refer having history with is likely Wycliffe USA/ SIL (yet ANOTHER separate “Wycliffe” entity–there are over 100 worldwide in the Wycliffe Global Alliance. Not necessarily so, but quite likely.
    Please do try and clarify which organization you refer to in the future. Sorry for this request, but there are an ever-increasing number of “distinctives”, and many of them are VERY significant, so it’s becoming MUCH more important to specify which “Wycliffe”. Thanks.

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