Training in Slovakia

Although it may seem that we’re all about the end result of having completed first-time translations of the Bible, a huge part of our work is training! Part of TWFTW’s vision is empowering nationals to do the work of Bible translation. This means that an incredible amount of effort and funds go into training mother tongue speakers to do translation work so that they can translate the Word of God into their own language. This results in a much clearer, much more natural, and much more accurate translation than we could have achieved otherwise.

Earlier this year, TWFTW had a highly successful training session in Slovakia. We focused on the subject of Biblical Exegesis of the Old Testament (“exegesis” is the explanation or interpretation of a text, which is critical for successful Bible translation). The students involved in the training found the lectures interesting and helpful, and they were enthusiastic about doing their assignments.

The next training event in Slovakia will most probably be in April. Please pray with us that it will go well and that the right lecturers will be found for the classes! Together we will press on until every person has the Word of God in their heart language.

Many Hands Make Light Work

“Many hands make light work.” – John Heywood

Last year in July, we had the wonderful opportunity to launch and distribute the first-time translation of the complete Bible in Maale. The speakers of Maale live in an area of Ethiopia known as Maaleland, and around 10,000 people from all over the area attended the launch. However, our work in Ethiopia is far from over!

Starting on February 5th, Nel Claassen, a consultant with TWFTW, will be working with the Guji and Gedeo translation teams in Ethiopia to consult on several books which they have finished translating. The process of Bible translation is a slow and steady one, involving many different people with many different skills. But step by step, verse by verse, and book by book, the work will be completed.

Please pray for the translators and for Nel as they begin the consultation!

God is at work in Southeast Asia

We are so happy to see how God is at work in Southeast Asia and also encouraged to see how the scripture in various forms is impacting communities across the region. Thank you all for praying with us and generously giving for the spreading of His Word!

Much progress was made in the consultant and exegetical checking of translations in several languages, as well as the drafting of a number of books of the Bible that had previously not been translated. In one language in particular, the Gospel of Mark is completely ready to be printed and distributed. Everyone is waiting with great excitement to hold the living Word of God in their heart language.

Aside from the actual translation work, there have also been a great number of Scripture Engagement activities. Bible stories were written and used for help with Bible study, and the Gospel of Luke and Matthew were recorded in one of the languages so that audio books could be made available.

And last but certainly not least, we once again see that the Word of God is living and active. In one area of Southeast Asia there are six translator teams working on six different languages. When they began working on their translations just over a year ago, none of the 22 team members were believers. Now, all of them have given their lives to Christ and serve the Lord wholeheartedly. How great is our God!

What do you think about Bible translation?

Ask most people and in our experience they’ll respond with something along the lines of, “Is there still such a thing? Don’t all the languages in the world have a Bible already? What possible need could there be for Bible translation?”

But the truth is, only around 2,500 language communities already have some or all of the Bible. That leaves over 4,000 languages with no access to God’s Word unless someone steps in and changes history. That’s 4,000 language communities filled with people who either have never read the Bible, or who have been reading it in a language other than their mother tongue. It’s difficult for those of us who have always had access to one or more Bible translations in our own mother tongues to grasp what this must be like.

Thank you to all of you who partner with us as we work tirelessly to help accomplish the goal of making the Bible accessible to all people in their mother tongue. As Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” God speaks everyone’s language: please pray with us as we work to make this a tangible reality.

God has done great things!

Praise God for all of the Bible translation work completed among Bible-less language communities in 2016. Some highlights of what God accomplished through TWFTW and partners in 2016:

The successful completion of fifteen Bible translator training events in five countries (the most training events that we’ve conducted in the most number of countries in a single calendar year). Up to six new Bible translation projects in Ethiopia and southern Asia (bringing the total number of TWFTW translations underway/completed to 105, and breaking the 100 translations milestone for the first time) were started. Additionally, the publishing of the complete Bible for the (approx. 120,000) Maale people in Ethiopia was celebrated. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

“The Word became flesh…”

As we approach the end of 2016 we have more reasons to be grateful for than we can even begin to quantify.  We have seen Vision 2050 (completing translation of the entire Bible in 500 languages by 2050) beginning to unfold, with many developments within the organization to keep pace with the growth in our work.  

Thank you for partnering with us, as organization, church or individual, financially, in intercession or whatever manner God has led you, to be involved.

Let us praise God together for his many blessings, and be careful to give Him all glory.

Contemplating members and partners of TWFTW, I was reminded of the beautiful verse of Scripture in Isaiah 52.7 (NIV):
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…

The work of Bible translation is exactly that:  bringing good news … peace …good tidings … salvation.

All of this is possible only because the Word of God became a human and lived among us. I pray that your Christmas will center around the person of Jesus Christ.

May 2017 bring the fulfillment of as many of your desires as you can handle in one year!  

Véroni Krüger
The Word for the World International

God's Word for the Roma People

Pierre Van Vuuren from Slovakia wrote:

"The vision of The Word for the World is the glory of God through transformed lives by the power of His Word in everyone’s heart language. We are partnering with The Seed Company (TSC), a Wycliffe affiliate, to translate the Old Testament into Eastern Slovak (Carpathian) Romani.

TWFTW’s translation director, Dr Manie van den Heever, visited for two weeks in the summer to
consultant check the Old Testament translation for accuracy and to provide training. Manie encouraged Pierre to train as a consultant, since there is a shortage of translation consultants. To date, the translation team has drafted more than 38% of the Old Testament. The text has to go through many controls before publication. At this stage we are working to get a solid team of reviewers who will give feedback to the translation team about the accuracy of the translation, vocabulary use, etc."

 Pray with us to speed up this process and for strength and wisdom for all involved.

"It felt as if we were in Israel"

“It felt as if we were in Israel.”
A Bible translator

Consultation in Asia

Once more we worked through Matthew. This time numbering 8 language groups, one completely new to me. It is not a difficult book, but even so, the discussions took longer than usual. At times it feels like nit-picking, but it pays to spend the needful time, since an unnecessary word added, or a question mark omitted can lead to subtle or even gross differences in meaning.

I again thank God for the times I spent in Israel, especially with Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators (Formerly Home for Bible Translators) AD 2007, where we had the privilege of physically visiting so many of the locations mentioned in the Bible. One cannot help but to cherish the wish to have every translator of God's word go through that experience of visiting the Holy Land. However, photos of locations and explanations of cultural and religious practices make a good 'second best', eg.

As one of the translators said: 'It felt as if we have been to Israel.'

It is always tricky to decide beforehand how much time will be needed for the consultation of the prepared books. Because of our extensive discussions, I misjudged pitifully. We had to put in extra hours, working Saturdays and evenings to finish the work. Exegetical work on seven of the eight groups have now been completed. The literal English back translation of the text of one group, however, was not up to scratch, and we are now trying to finalise the translation by email. The process is much slower than what I expected, but the co-operation from the team's side is excellent.

I expect one would only be able to measure the impact of these eight printed Gospels of Matthew in the hereafter. We thank God for them and we equally thank you for your support.

Antoinette Vermeulen
TWFTW Bible Translation Consultant

Press Release: Reuben Kabwe to COO of TWFTW International

The Word for the World (TWFTW) recently announced the appointment of Reuben Kabwe to the position of Chief Operating Officer of TWFTW International. As such he will be working closely with the International President, overseeing all activities related to The Word for the World (TWFTW) Group worldwide.
Reuben is a graduate of TWFTW’s training programme in Bible Translation, and holds a BTh from the South African Theological Seminary (SATS). He is currently engaged in post-graduate studies with the same University.

His career in TWFTW has prepared him for this appointment. He joined the training programme in 1998 and became a member of TWFTW in 2002. After serving as the research assistant of the International President of TWFTW, he was closely involved in Bible translation in Zambia and Tanzania. He served as National Director for TWFTW in Tanzania and subsequently as Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Reuben is married to Doreen, who has succeeded him as Regional Director for Southern Africa. They have three children and will be living in their homeland, Zambia.

We wish them the best of God’s blessing as they pursue their new roles in the ministry of Bible translation.

Empowering Leaders

Recently in Southeast Asia, The Word for the World ran one of our many training sessions for students who are passionate about getting involved with Bible translation. The vision is that the students will be empowered to train and develop others to effectively carry out the Bible translation projects in Southeast Asia.

Starting each day with devotions, then following a rigorous study schedule involving Greek, Hebrew, and Literary Studies, the students were kept incredibly busy, but they persevered and seemed to enjoy it! One student, Reverend Chhotray, said, “I enjoyed the fun way of learning Greek, Hebrew and Literary Studies.” He is already an experienced ex-faculty member of a Bible college and is familiar with the Biblical languages, but it was an enjoyable experience for him.

Professor Mikko, who helped facilitate the training, confessed the fulfillment of his five-year old dream. “I am excited to work with highly motivated learners, clearly called to carry the TWFTW mission forward. What I have received from God, that I gave to this class, pouring buckets of information into receptive hearts. Thank the organization to give me this opportunity to teach. I am looking forward to teach more.”

The training would not have been so successful if not for the dedicated, hard working students, and facilitators who truly carry the vision for Bible translation. Thank you to all who participated.

Ethiopia: Training Students in Bible Translation

Altogether we had again 80 students this year. 53 Students are involved in Bible translation. Some of the translation projects are working on the translation of the NT and others on the translation of the Old Testament. The majority of projects are managed by TWFTW staff.

TWFTW is grateful for organizations who sent students, the TWFTW support bases and a German trust’s contribution to make this training event possible. The actual in-country training costs for the training are fully covered.

Most teachers were The Word for the World staff.

Ndendeule Language in Tanzania

The Ndendeule Bible Translation project is located in Namtumbo, in the Ruvuma region. It has three translators; Nicolas Geho, Upendo Ponela, and Frank Otman. The project is one of our newer projects, as it was only started two years ago. In 2000 the population was estimated to be around 100,000, and the majority of this people group is made up of Muslims.

It is not a comfortable area to work in due to the fact that many pastors are foreigners and not Ndendeule speakers, and cannot fully support the translation team yet. Additionally, the area is dominated by Islam, and this adds to the difficulty of working there.

TWFTW is grateful for the success thus far with this project. Will you join us in prayer for the translation team’s protection, wisdom and provision.

The Ila New Testament Launch, Zambia

The Ila New Testament, a first time translation, was launched on 11 July 2016.

All the churches were represented, by bishops, pastors, and church elders. There were representatives of the government, and Ila Chiefs and Headmen participated. Other guests included TWFTW partners (The Seed Company, the Bible Society of Zambia, and Every Tribe Every Nation), the COO of TWFTW International and personnel of TWFTW Zambia. Members of the Alabama Baptist Church which has been supporting the Ila translation project through the Seed Company since the inception of this project were also present. (This same group played a very important role during the distribution of these New Testaments, involved in handing them out to the people.)

The launch was preceded by an awareness march from the Post Office in Itezhi Tezhi to the Roman Catholic hall.
When the time came to hand over the New Testaments, Chief Shimbizhi and his people came walking in with spears, carrying a box with Ila New Testaments. All the people stood up and there was great jubilation, with people spontaneously singing and clapping and doing traditional dances. The translators were the first recipients of the published New Testaments.

No sooner had some people received their copies than they started reading, and one could hear pages being turned over. It was a joyful moment to see even children queuing outside for the Testaments. Food and soft drinks were provided for everyone.

Thank God that the Ila people now at last have the New Testament in the language God gave them. Work is already progressing on translating the Old Testament also.

TWFTW Leaders Meeting in Pretoria, South Africa

TWFTW Executive Management Team (EMT) recently had a successful 3-day meeting at the Intundla Lodge in Pretoria, South Africa. Various matters were discussed and reported on.

Some time was spent on the Vision 2050 Implementation Plan. Specific goals that were set previously have already been surpassed! Testimonies of how the Bible has impacted some people in their local communities can be read here.

It followed a 5-day Leadership Conference where there were over 70 leaders in attendance from all the countries in which TWFTW works.

We were inspired and encouraged by Alexander Venter’s devotions and Chris de Wet’s teachings during the morning sessions. The afternoons were spent receiving training. There was ample time each evening to visit and enjoy each others company.

Together, we work towards bringing God’s Word to 500 languages and assisting other like-minded agencies in many more languages.

The Launch of the Maale Bible, Ethiopia

I’ve always heard my dad say to people, “If you want to see what The Word for the World looks like, get on a plane with me and I’ll show you.” For the most part, we don’t have office buildings. We don’t have neat, corporate headquarters where you can come and visit us in air conditioned rooms and discuss far-off fieldwork while we all sip on bottled water (although, you should probably bring some with you, where we’re going).

On July 10th we had the dedication of the first ever complete Maale translation of the whole Bible, a TWFTW project that was started by Jacques and Jeanette van As* in 1999. Maale is in southwest Ethiopia, and getting there involved flying in a tiny plane from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to a dirt-and-bushes runway, followed by trekking over extremely rough and rocky roads for 2-3 hours. For some TWFTW staff, it took 2 days of rugged, bumpy driving to reach the area. Many of the approximately 10,000 Maale people who attended walked for hours or even days to get to the dedication location so that they could receive, for the first time, the Bible in their mother tongue.

This was a fairly good percentage of the 140,000 people that make up the Maale people group, especially considering the difficulty of getting to the location. By the time the dedication ceremony started, the people were sitting tightly packed together in the grass, and some on the outskirts of the crowd even had to climb trees (much like Zacchaeus in Luke 19!) just to be able to see what was going on at the front. The crowd was so dense that photographers and videographers who were there to capture the important day sometimes stepped on people’s hands and feet as they moved among them.

It took 14 years of translation and consultation and another 2 years of preparing the manuscript for publication for the Maale people to receive this Bible. They have waited, prayed, and hoped, and a great deal of hard work and sacrifice has gone into the project. The translators (Oesha Tushkulo, Mesert Metaferiya, Tamene Lale, and Asefa Gebeyehu) were often away from their families for long periods of time in order to get the work done. And, of course, moving from a city in South Africa to a rural village in Ethiopia without any amenities with two young sons was no small sacrifice for Jacques and Jeanette van As. But all of this is a testament to how passionate everyone involved in this project has been about getting the work done, and getting the Maale Bible to the people.

At the end of the dedication ceremony the Bibles were finally unboxed and crowds of people thronged around the distribution areas to get their hands on a copy. Some walked off carrying several Bibles, and as we left the area to return to the plane, we saw people many miles along, carrying whole boxes full of Bibles to take back to their own families, churches, and villages. It may seem foreign to those of us who are privileged enough to have always had a Bible in our own languages, but the amount of sacrifice and time these people had to put in to obtain their own Bibles was astonishing.

What an incredible thing to think that in 2016 the Maale people, for the first time in history, can now read the Word of God in their mother tongue, and know that God speaks their language.

Veronique Krüger

“The Kingdom… Forcefully Advancing…”

It all started with God’s plan for the Taabua people, a nation living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It ultimately involved a place called Mporokoso in the north-eastern corner of Zambia, south-west of Lake Tanganyika and due south from Lake Mweru, Zambia; a South African lady named Nel Claassen; consultants from different countries; and an international organization called The Word for the World.

Three elderly men in the DRC, then called Zaïre, felt compelled to translate the Bible into their mother tongue. They did a first draft of the Taabua New Testament, writing on whatever bits of paper they could find, including scraps of cardboard. Not knowing the next step in the translation process, they held onto their precious scraps. It was only in 1998 that, on hearing about the project, they searched until they found Bishop Kibombwe, who was by then one of the three Taabua mother tongue translators. They selflessly and graciously handed over their invaluable work to aid the project.

Mutumania Kasakota was the first recruited translator. He approached Bishop Kibombwe, an erstwhile Roman Catholic priest and academic in his seventies. He became so convinced that the Lord had called him to this work that he gladly traveled the 200 km from Moba to Musosa on the back of pastor Kasokota’s bicycle to meet Nel Claassen. At the end of the journey the Bishop told Nel, “Isn’t God gracious – we only fell off twice!” Kalinde Nzika was the third translator in the team, and they moved to Zambia. The project was based in Zambia as there was huge political instability in Zaïre, which resulted in a civil war in 1997.

The project proved to have been the litmus test of The Word for the World’s shift of emphasis on training mother tongue Bible translators in the field where the need is greatest: that is, working from the premise that more and more nationals are accepting responsibility for doing work themselves for and in their own countries.
The Gospel of John, ‘Yoane’, was printed and dedicated to the Taabua nation in 2002 in a moving ceremony where hungry hands reached out for it. They came in their thousands to drink, at last, from the fountain of living water, God’s Word in their heart language.

The entire New Testament was completed, scrutinized by the team, tested among the Taabua, consultant-checked by Greek scholars and printed at the end of 2005.

Once, while the team was back in their villages to do testing of the new translation, they had to flee with their families from the DRC when the area was overrun by the rebels. They were placed in a refugee camp at Mwange near Mporokoso in Zambia, together with 43,000 other Taabuas. They were stuck there for three years, with Nel Claassen battling refugee bureaucracy trying to get them released, but to no avail.

Soon after their arrival in the refugee camp, the men set up shop in a thatched office they had built. Here Bishop Kibombwe, Pastor Kasokota and Kalinde Nzika continued translating, trained reviewers, and did the field-testing of the translated material. They worked “office hours, just as if Nel were there” as one of them wrote. This is where they finished the first draft of the New Testament. The Bishop planted a church in the camp where he used portions of the translated material. Their working without any supervision was a powerful testimony all over the camp.

Communication between Nel and the team took place through Kapasa in Mbala. The nick-name ‘Kapasa’ means ‘messenger of the king’ in Bemba. He once wrote, “I was Nel’s messenger to and from the DRC, and Nel was appointed by the King of Kings for this work." Kapasa was the runner between Nel and the team in the camp, fetching and carrying work.

Kalinde Nzika once summed up the eternal impact of the project when he wrote, “The Taabua Bible translation project is a splendid and powerful hammer to break the darkness in which the Taabua lived for so long. They were unseen, non-existent and ignored. But, God will raise them up, as the Scriptures say in Hosea 2.23: …I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’. I will say to those called ‘Not my people’, ’You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God’. The voice of God in Taabua will be with them and in them. He is in control.”