Oral Bible Translation (OBT) work is surging forward and changing the whole landscape of mother-tongue Bible translation. And yet, in the midst of a global explosion in heart-language Bible translation, it remains relatively unknown on the global church stage. Because of our passion to see all people have access to God’s Word in their heart language, we hope to inspire and energise Christians around the world to see, and do – see what God is doing in mother-tongue Bible translation, and do by jumping on board in any way they feel compelled to take action. In our last three blogs, we explored OBT, and in this post, we will discuss the practicalities of these projects and how Christians can link hands with us as we respond to this rapidly growing movement.
OBT projects start when the community wants an oral Bible in their language, and then individuals in that community respond to God’s call and learn how to become translators. TWFTW translators typically start by enrolling in the 4-week DBT course (Diploma in Bible Translation) with a focus on IOBT (Introduction to OBT). Then, the official start of the translation project is at the 3-week Render (easy-to-use and cost-effective software which provides streamlined cloud storage and infrastructure that accommodates our growing needs) and OBT workshop. Here, the entire team learns about internalisation techniques and how to use the software for each role in the translation process (translators and peer review, back translator, community check, consultant check). The team exegetes also learn how to prepare notes and study the Scripture passage ahead of time that the teams will be working on to clarify difficult topics and keep track of key terms. The exegetes typically are pastors or have some sort of more formal educational training prior to the workshop. Essentially, day by day, the translators work to listen to and learn about the passage they will be translating, internalise it using different tools such as acting, storyboarding, etc., and then create an oral draft in the Render software.
Seemingly ‘small’ things like technology, software and equipment (Render software and solar-charged listening devices, called Proclaimers) are pivotal in these projects. Faith Comes By Hearing has provided these devices for our joint project in the Reli tribe, and in most projects a few leaders hold weekly “listening groups” for the community to gather, engage and listen to the Bible in their own language. We are grateful to the Lord for the benefits of modern technology and the ability to use these practical things to take His truth and love to every tribe and tongue.
But even with modern tech advances in software and processes, translation projects experience challenges. The OBT process is both a physical journey and a spiritual battle, as the translation teams often face difficulties in remote locations with poor recording conditions, sickness and even persecution. Similar to written mother-tongue Bible translation work, OBT can be arduous. And comparable to Christian ministry and missionary work, those on the front lines need the encouragement, prayer and practical support of the body of Christ in order to keep going and overcome those challenges.
We invite anyone and everyone who feels excited to ‘see’ what God is doing in heart-language OBT and how many people He is reaching with His good news to join hands with us (click here to see more). You can ‘do’ by praying for all the men and women who are training to become translators and who have responsibility and ownership for this important work in their communities. Pray, too, for God’s continued provision for all the practical and financial needs created by this explosion of projects over the last two years. If you feel led to share your resources, your generosity will make an eternal impact in many people’s lives. Collectively we can do so much more, as we each respond to this surge of movement towards completing 1000 mother-tongue languages, first-time translations of the entire Bible by 2050.