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.