Once the Scriptures have been translated, it is essential to ensure that they are being used. A sad reality is that many translations remain on the shelf, unused by the people for whom they were intended. This is primarily due to a lack of Scripture engagement.
An essential way to encourage Scripture engagement is to involve the language community in the translation project right from the start. We involve the community in recruiting and choosing prospective translators. A committee of representative community members helps to run the project and review the translation right from the start.
The reviewing of the draft translation by the review committee and field-testing of the text in the community before it is published is part of the Scripture awareness and engagement process. A portion of Scripture is usually tested by hundreds of people before it is published.
Scripture is published as early as possible, usually within the first year of the start of the project (e.g. the Gospel of Mark). The first few publications are called trial versions and used in churches, Bible study groups and schools. Literate pupils who take the portions home can read them to illiterate family members. That way, feedback from the community is encouraged to improve future publication of the Scriptures which fosters greater ownership.
In recent months, there have been several ceremonies in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania—each village celebrating the New Testament translated in their own language.
"The guest of honour was a government official who is a Muslim and he openly said that now that he has the Bible in his language, he sees himself becoming a Christian and encouraged a crowd of Muslims to hear God in their own language. For the first time I had to run from the crowd and jump in the truck to continue giving out Bibles, or I would have been crushed.”
Reuben Kabwe, TWFTW Southern Africa Director
"This woman is a testimony for what God has done to her eyes. She had eye problems for a long time… years. But she heard about the release of the Ndamba Bible and decided to come, together with her family. When she received her Ndamba Bible, she felt joy and happiness. She started to dance. And then she started to feel healing in her left eye. After that the eye was open and she could see. She started to preach the Word of God in her Ndamba language.”
G. Chombo, TWFTW TZ Communication Officer
As this Muslim woman reads from the Nguu New Testament, she explains that her neighbors have come together and discovered that what they thought before was not true. The words within the Gospel, and the story told through the Jesus Film, touched their hearts and changed their minds.
As this young couple received the Bible, they shared with a member of the TWFTW staff that they are committed to starting an evening Bible study within their village. “Many people,” they said, “will join together to listen. We do this together in love.” With joy and enthusiasm, God’s Word is received and incorporated into everyday life.
Giving thanks to God for their newly published Zigua New Testament, these women plan to meet weekly and study together. They also thanked God for TWFTW, the translators, and the donors.
We partner with the Jesus Film project who have produced a film based on the Gospel of Luke. The voices of the film actors are dubbed using lip- synchronisation into each language. This is a very effective outreach tool and helps promote the use of the Scriptures in the mother tongue.
Recording of Scripture is essential for illiterate and blind members of the community. We partner with Faith Come by Hearing and DAVAR International in audio Scripture production. In Malawi, a Braille version of the Sena New Testament has been produced by Torch Trust.
A broad range of local churches partner with us across Africa and in Slovakia, from Roman Catholic to the Kale Heywet church (largest evangelical church in Ethiopia).
Members of TWFTW raise their own support. A large number of churches in South Africa, the UK and the USA are involved in supporting members working as expatriates in other countries, as well as staff at the supporting bases in the three countries.
The church in less developed African countries has long been conditioned to believe that it should always just be receiving. TWFTW incorporates training for church leaders into its curriculum that shows the responsibility of local churches to become involved in Bible translation. When churches request Bible translation projects, TWFTW and the local church agree on what the contribution of the local church will be. This is often accommodation for the team of translators, or a contribution to their livelihood, monetary or through gifts in kind.
Local churches are our most important partners in the process of recruiting potential translators to enter our training program. They also play a large role in reviewing the ongoing translation work (via review committees) and are critical to assuring it is widely utilized in an accurate manner.