Literacy and Empowerment

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

-Romans 10:14, NIV

And, even if they have a Bible in their language, how can they read it if they are illiterate?

Literacy is a huge part of the work of Bible Translation. It would be a great waste of time and effort to empower people to translate the Bible into their own language, and to see the translation completed, only to distribute it to a community that cannot read!

We provide training and workshops for locals in how to set up, implement, and run literacy programs in their communities. This includes helping them to develop child- and adult-friendly material needed to teach reading and writing to those who need it!

One such program was recently run in the Kharam community in Asia. Nine students from 3 people groups learned how to create literacy programs. Amazingly, the 35-hour workshop resulted in the printing of literacy materials and even math books in each language!

All of this serves to further the work of Bible Translation and ensure that one day every man, woman, and child will be able to read and understand the Word of God in their heart language.

People of the Book

Even Muslims in Tanzania are overjoyed at receiving the Bible in their heart language!

The Yao Bible translation project is helping around 520,000 people in Tanzania to have scripture in their own language. Many of the people in this area are not even Christians, but Muslims. As you can imagine, there is often hostility between the groups, and Christians are sometimes persecuted for what they believe.

The project, however, is bringing the Yao people together, as all are excited to have an important book like the Bible in their language.

“This is what we need to read,” said one Muslim man in the community. “This is what we like to see. As you know, we are Muslim. We know that some of our Muslim family and neighbours have become Christians because of this kind of Book. Now that we have seen these books published in Yao, we want to see more printed in our language.”

You have helped to make this possible!

Blessings,

Véroni Krüger
International President
The Word for the World

 

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A Tale of 10 Languages

What a challenge, but also a remarkable privilege for me, to travel to countless locations in Southeast Asia — this land of variety and contrasts — over the past 10 years of my Bible translation consulting life.

The pace of life is crazy, the hustle and bustle and noise on the streets unbelievable! The colourful sights and unusual sounds are quite spectacular, and the variety of foods and architecture amazing — not to mention the 17 different alphabets used in the over 450 different languages spoken in daily life! Come with me on one of my trips there and see what a group consultation in Southeast Asia is like.

We arrive at a rural hospital where I am told that this is where we will be meeting and where I will stay. I am also told not to leave the campus, as the area is not safe for foreigners. After a spicy meal, disturbed sleep, and a morning shower shared with spiders and a slug or two, I head for the meeting room, filled with tables and laptop computers. People from 10 different language groups are clustered around these tables, all talking excitedly and waiting for the consultation to start.

The 10 teams will all get a turn to showcase their work as each team takes a chapter and reads it out verse by verse, and I assess its accuracy to the original Greek text. The verse is back-translated orally from one of the 10 mother tongue languages into English, so I hear exactly how the translation team have re-expressed the meaning of the verse. I ensure that there are no changes, omissions, or additions to the original or source text meaning.

If there are any problems, I discuss these with the team and they make corrections. I ask questions if I am not sure of their translation, and they too ask me questions if they need help. In this group method of consultation the teams learn from each other and the consultants in training (CITs) also give input, and after we are sure that all the required changes are made, we move onto the next verse.

Working as a consultation team, with CITs who have different strengths and weaknesses, we all learn together and add more expertise as a group to the consultant checking. We now have 5 nationals working as fully trained consultants in Southeast Asia, whom I have had the privilege to mentor.

The beauty of this method of group consultation is that all teams are served together. The stronger teams help the weaker teams to improve their translation. Because the languages are related geographically and linguistically, they can assist each other to provide more examples of local idioms and richer vocabulary to make their translations more natural and meaningful. And that is ultimately what we strive for: clear, natural, and accurate translation of the whole Bible into every person’s heart language.

By Dr. Barry Funnell, a full-time consultant with The Word for the World.

Translating the Bible Using Skype

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The Romani translation project in Slovakia is one of our most unique! The three translators do not all live close to one another, and the majority of the translation is done over Skype. Working together in a group like this would never have been possible if not for technology and the opportunities it offers.

The Word for the World in Slovakia has also recently released 2 new mobile applications that make the Romani Bible accessible to everyone who has a cellphone. For the first time in history, through these apps, 17 books of the Old Testament are being published in Romani. What an amazing blessing for the Romani people!

The work of translating the Bible into Romani is going strong and is 71% complete, with the complete New Testament released in 2014.

To find the apps on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, search for “E Biblia andre Romani chib”.

 

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Generations of Blessing

“When you receive the blessing of God in your life, you want to know the purpose of God in it,” says 75 year-old Mathias Kusigara, a Zigua-speaking man from Chogoali village, Tanzania. “Two years ago, when I received the Zigua New Testament, I was shocked.

“When I started to read, it was flowing in my heart. For the first time, peace and truth entered into my heart, and my marriage too. Me and my wife, we started reading together and sharing with neighbors and grandchildren. We continued praying to God in our villages.

“Many people have a thirst for God’s Word. But through the Zigua New Testament, my heart has opened to know that if you want to know God’s plan for your life, you must read His Word in your language. This is the only way can see the truth.

“I continued praying, asking God about His mercy to receive His complete Word in my language.

Then I had a dream about Bible Translation, and I saw that many people will come and join to contribute to this work all over the world.

“As you can see, I am poor, but in my dream I was one of the people contributing to help this work to be continued. So my wife and I have saved for a while so that we can contribute to the translators and have the whole Bible be completed.”

“This blessing,” Mathias says, “is for generations.”

Story and photos by George Chombo.

Every Tribe and Nation

Do you remember learning how diamonds came to be?

“…that combination of high temperature and high pressure is what's necessary to grow diamond crystals in the Earth.” (Smithsonian Mag)

Only under intense pressure is it possible to create these highly-prized gemstones. Similarly, when we as believers are placed in an environment that is hostile to our faith in Christ, incredible things can happen.

In Southeast Asia, most of which is hostile to Christians, The Word for the World translators are working in nearly 70 different projects to translate the Bible into their own languages.

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Under extreme circumstances, the work of Bible translation is exploding and expanding almost faster than we can report it. And yet this is happening in an area so dangerous that we can’t even use the real names of the languages or translators, or their work could be compromised.

The people are hungry for Jesus. And precious followers of Christ are working hard in the midst of persecution and adversity to make sure their people know his words, his love, and his gift of salvation. By God’s grace, the Word will reach every corner of the earth, to every tribe and every nation. Amen.

Photo of a rice terrace by Jason Cooper.

 

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Does Jesus Speak My Language?

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“Does Jesus speak my language? How can I speak to him if he doesn’t understand me?”

It’s hard for us to imagine that there are people in the world who feel this way. But if you’ve gone your whole life without a Bible in your own language, you may not even know that Jesus exists, let alone that he desires to speak with each and every one of us!

You can help.

The Word for the World is currently involved in over 130 languages, working to translate the entire Bible. Even better, we are empowering the people who don’t have a Bible yet to translate it into their own language — thus ensuring a natural, clear, and accurate translation that will be accepted by the community.

Here is how you can help to end Bible poverty!

  1. Learn: Sign up for our e-newsletter. We would also love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

  2. Pray: Your prayers are invaluable and necessary. Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive prayer and praise updates.

  3. Give: Click here to support a translation project or the work of Bible translation as a whole.

  4. Volunteer: Consider volunteering with The Word for the World! We need people to train translators, train consultants, handle IT concerns, and much more. If you feel called to the work of Bible translation, please contact us and we will get in touch with you.

What will your legacy be?

The Bible transforms hearts and lives of people!

In the Sagasa Village, Tanzania, the Nguu people have come to realize the importance of the Bible in their heart language. It has brought new meaning to the lives of the people in their village -even the unborn children - as they understand the message of hope and love the Bible brings!

Sharing the word of God in the evening with Bible discussions and fellowship has become an important part of their lives. The Nguu Bible brought them freedom and a new sense of purpose!

The Nguu speaking people received the Nguu New Testament a few years back, but they are still yearning to have the whole Bible in their own language. 39% of the Old Testament is already complete. With your support they will soon have the whole Bible in their own language!

Why translate the Old Testament?

Show me a tall building without a solid foundation. Show me a house with no roof where the rain will not come pouring in. Show me a house with a roof, but no walls or foundation. This is the picture of an incomplete Bible. The complete Bible has the Pentateuch as foundation, the rest of the Old Testament as the walls and the New Testament as the roof — they are inter-dependent.

How can anybody think of the Bible as complete without the Old Testament? It would be like living a life with no recollection of the past, total amnesia with no points of reference. Jesus Himself frequently quotes Scripture from the Old Testament. Omitting the Old Testament is equal to denying Jesus being Jewish. Denying Him His part in the Trinity. Denying the history of God’s plan for man’s redemption.

The old Testament exposes with brutal honesty man’s inadequacy and sinfulness against God’s omnipotence and covenant love. The two Testaments form a unity bound by God’s love and should never be separated. If we do not have the Old Testament, we would never know the great treasure we have received in the New.

Henrietta Mears said: “The New is in the Old contained. The Old is in the New explained. The New is in the Old latent. The Old is in the New patent.”

Let us not be arrogant in deciding what God should and should not have left out of His revealed word to us. Let us enjoy and learn whatever we can from what he Has given.

Let us then proceed to translate the complete Bible for everyone in the language God gave them.