What Does the Bible Mean to You?

Spiwe Masikasika is a woman of the Ndau language group from Chipinge, Zimbabwe. They already have the complete Bible in their heart language of Ndau. The translation of the Bible into the Ndau language began way back in the early 1900s, and was published by the Bible Society of Zimbabwe. See more info here.

I visited Spiwe at her home in Harare, Zimbabwe recently to find out how she feels about having the Bible in her heart language. Spiwe is, as she says, “thrilled” with the way the Ndau translation was done and says that it is understandable, clear, and natural to her to read.

As heard from the testimonies by Spiwe, when people receive the word of God in their heart language, it is more effective in transforming their lives and building their relationship with God. People are transformed and lives are restored and communities are equipped for the benefit of the body of Christ.

Your continued support in whatever form to the work of The Word for the World is greatly appreciated. Become part of the vision to bring God's Word to all people in their heart language by 2050 and visit our Give and Volunteer pages to see how you can get involved.

-Piniel Tawanda Zimbizi

Soli Deo Gloria!

A couple of weeks ago our minister gave a sermon on Jesus telling his disciples that one can tell a mountain to go and jump in the sea and it will be done. That reminded me of a message from the International President of The Word for the World on the same subject, saying that he knew how it could be done: by taking a shovel and a wheel-barrow, going to the mountain, and saying: “Thou shalt be removed!”, and then start working on it.
 
Looking back on my history with TWFTW, I can still see us going to Malawi (the Funnell family), Ethiopia (the van As family) and Zaire (yours truly), with our imaginative spades and wheel barrows and much faith in a good God, doing just that. In hindsight I can only testify about the abundant blessings of God on the work accomplished in His Name, and the fact that he gave us excellent leaders to direct and drive this wild cart and keep it (and us) on track! And we did have some serious road works on the way.
 
I always say I work for God with TWFTW, because at the end of the day one’s walk depends on obedience to God. Herewith I add that there is no other organisation that I would rather work with. Our vision in TWFTW is to have 500 complete Bibles by 2050 – hopefully by then I will be sitting next to Jesus, cheering everyone on. At the moment we are working on 109 projects in many different countries, mainly in Africa. We also have 10 full time consultants and 19 in training; 364 students, and 325 full time translators. We also run literacy courses where people cannot read – because the Bible is not like a lucky charm to be displayed or dusted when the pastor visits. And all this because of God’s grace and to His glory.

Nel Claassen, a TWFTW translation consultant

Empowering Consultation

Translating the complete Bible into a language which has never had one is a big project; and like other big projects it takes a team of empowered, skillful, and dedicated practitioners, all operating in different roles and functions. On twftw.org, we talk a lot about our translators—teams of well-trained and Spirit-filled men and women who tirelessly explore the depths of meaning found in the Scriptures and carefully transcribe them into their own heart language--and they really are stars. However, today, we want to take a moment to celebrate our consultants and consultants-in-training.

Describing the role of a translation consultant can be difficult. The job requires extensive knowledge and experience in academic and religious topics like Biblical language and culture, exegesis, cultural anthropology, and textual criticism. The job also requires practical, business skills like project management, conflict resolution, mediation, and mentoring. Also, don’t forget to add in practical and theoretical linguistics. Translation consultants come alongside translation teams, working verse-by-verse through their translations helping solve all types of linguistic, historical, cultural, and theological problems. It is a job that requires diligence in balancing compassion with academic know-how—and results in clear, accurate, and natural translations.

Last year, TWFTW held a Translation Consultant Training event which gave 20 consultants-in-training (CiT’s) the opportunity to enhance their skills and to be placed into our Consultant Growth Plan. Some of the CiT’s are translators being promoted into new roles and some are from outside the organization—all of them are passionate about showing people that God does indeed speak your language!

As an organization, we are thankful for all the consultants, both in and out of TWFTW, who are a part of our team—and we are incredibly excited about the consultants God is raising up into the great calling of empowering mother-tongue speakers to translate the Bible into their own language!

Explore ways to partner with our teams, and get involved with TWFTW!

Joel Brown

A Soli Celebration!

It is a warm, Friday afternoon—the day before the Soli New Testament Launch—and six of us are tightly packed into a car, traveling through the Soli-lands, east of Lusaka, Zambia. I have never travelled through this part of country after the rains, and my heart is happy to see fields of corn and flowers stretching as far as I could see; all underneath the striking blue and white of the cloudy and endless African sky.

The rest of the day is busy with preparations; meetings with the High Chieftainess, headmen, and Soli Committee; and ensuring that nearly four thousand Soli New Testaments are delivered and secured. As I return home late that evening, I find myself still basking in the excitement—for tomorrow we celebrate something truly special: a people receiving something that is both a result of their own dedication, as well as the generosity of others—something which took faith and hard work—a longed for destination which is also the start of a new journey of discovery and understanding. The Soli New Testament is truly a gift from God, and the Soli are literally and metaphorically about to turn the page, and begin a new chapter in their walk with God.

The program reads as a tightly-packed, two-and-a-half-hour event—but you should know, there is no Zambian celebration that fits into a morning session! Dancing, music, and speeches abound—and we hear stories of victory and loss—of blessing and sacrifice. Throughout the many, varied, and colorful presentations, the heart and hand of God becomes clear—for the Soli people have come, just as they are, and they are loved by Him.

Joel Brown

“Yes, I speak Soli!”

“Yes, there are many things happening in Zambia tomorrow, but here in Chongwe, the day is all about celebration, as we receive the New Testament in our OWN language, and the Soli can read the Bible in Soli for the FIRST TIME EVER! Praise be to God!”

These were the words of one of the Soli translators as he was being interviewed on the radio the day before the Soli launch. The morning of the launch was filled with excitement, but for me, there was one moment that said it all: the first time the Soli Bible was read publicly to the Soli people.

When our lead Soli translator took the stage, with tears in his eyes, a watchful quiet started to rise. The silence gained strength as he opened the Bible and started reading; and when those first Soli words were read aloud, something amazing—reminiscent of Pentecost—occurred. A moment of intense silence instantly stuck the crowd as a palpable spirit of understanding, astonishment, and joy spread like a wildfire amongst the gathered Soli.

Even up to this moment, some were skeptical, asking themselves—Can I ever really understand what’s in this Bible? Can these local Soli men really translate the holy book? Will we be abandoned or forgotten? Does God actually speak my language? It was in this moment that their skepticism was dismissed, and the astonished silence gave way to the most jubilant and resounding cheers of the day as God made it abundantly clear, “Yes, I speak Soli!”

Joel Brown

Jesus Speaks Soli!

This Saturday, April 28th, the Soli people in Chongwe, Zambia will be receiving the New Testament in their own language for the first time! Through difficult circumstances these Soli translators endured it. Limited office space, sickness, deaths of friends and reviewers, and old computers are only some of the trials and challenges they faced while working on the translation. However, the team has faithfully sought after God in the face of these troubles, and have found the peace and strength needed to carry on. Together with reviewers, consultants, and partners, we are all looking forward to when the Soli people will hold the New Testament in their heart language! Audio Bibles will also be distributed so that everyone will have access to the Word of God in Soli.

When crowds were first able to see and hear the Jesus film in Soli, many were awestruck, saying, “Jesus speaks my language!” Now, with the entire New Testament available, Jesus’ powerful and oft enigmatic words can be heard and understood in new and amazing ways! Yes, Jesus speaks Soli and now the New Testament messages of truth, love, and light are available for the Soli people to understand clearly—in their own language.

Celebrations in Zambia

The launch of the Soli New Testament in Chongwe, Zambia is coming up on April 28! Leading up to this and in preparation for the distribution of the New Testament to the Soli people, we recently had a meeting with the outgoing Archbishop Tresford Mpundu and her Royal Highness, Chieftess Nokomeshya Mukamambo II. The Archbishop said that he would stamp some of the copies of the Soli New Testament, which will then be distributed to the Catholic church members on the day of the launch. The Archbishop will also pray over the New Testament copies before the distribution date. We are thankful that already there is such eagerness and excitement to receive the Word of God in their heart language! Celebrate with us as we lead up to this momentous occasion.

The Life & Times of Translation Consultants

The Word for the World is currently working on 111 full scale Bible translation projects, each one representing a language. For 111 projects, there are only 10 full-time translation consultants! They have their plates full checking the translations against Greek and Hebrew, usually in person, but sometimes over Skype or email.

Barry Funnell, one of TWFTW’s international consultants, travels approximately 10 times per year to Asia and Africa doing consultant work, which totals about one third of the year in time away from home. He also has been doing Skype consultation in between with the Roma team from Slovakia, as you can see in the video.

Mary* is another consultant with TWFTW and has just returned from a trip to Asia, where she worked with six language teams to check their Gospel of John. The Paratext computer programme enables Mary to check six languages simultaneously because she can look at an English word-for-word translation generated by a computer of all six languages even though they are written in a script she can't read or understand. Please pray for Mary as she goes to Malawi soon to check Psalms and other Old Testament books in the Lambya project!

Please also pray for Nel Claassen, who will be in Ethiopia in May consulting on the Pentateuch, and who will also be doing an email consultation on a project in Southeast Asia. We thank God for technology that makes what we do more accessible and efficient!

If you would like to know more about becoming a consultant, visit our Volunteer page at twftw.org/volunteer.

Veronique Krüger

*Pseudonym

Starting Was All I Needed To Do

The calling and work we are involved in can often be overwhelming. In my experience, this is a good thing because it forces us to rely on the Lord to direct our paths as we step out in simple obedience.

One of our great challenges in the work of Bible translation is teaching people to read and write their own language so that they can read the Scriptures. Since many of the languages we are working in are only spoken, an alphabet needs to be devised for each language, which is based on their unique sound system. Using the writing script of the state or national language as a base, an alphabet is designed for each of the individual languages. The next step is constructing primers to teach reading and writing in the villages. These primers are produced during workshops where teams representing numerous minority languages work concurrently on their highly individual sets of literacy materials: instruction books with lessons, story books etc.

When running a workshop of this calibre, it is like the feeding of the 5,000. It is at times like this that all I can do is to start. Every time I’ve done these workshops in the past, I have been amazed to see that starting was all I needed to do. Just start. It is a step of obedience and a statement of trust in God to simply do what is required of you. One of my favourite quotes is, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp… or what… is a heaven for.” (The Amateur Cracksman.) The miracle is His doing!

Jeanette van As

Easter in Your Heart Language

Easter.jpg

As Easter approaches, Christians all over the world are getting ready to reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross and celebrate His resurrection. For most, this means gathering together with family, going to church, reading the story of His sacrifice and His victory, and being reminded of God’s infinite love and grace for us.

What if you couldn’t read this story in your heart language? Would you really and truly understand what it meant for Jesus to die for our sins and rise again, thereby making sure that we could have a relationship with God? Probably not. You would have to rely on what other people explained to you, and your understanding of God would be based on secondhand information.

There are 4,000 language communities that will not be able to read the story of how God saved us this Easter. As you celebrate with your family and loved ones, please keep these people in your hearts and in your prayers. And as you partner with us, we will continue to do the work of Bible translation so that one day, every believer will be able to read the story of our salvation in their heart language.