Our vision at TWFTW is to complete first-time translations of the whole Bible in 1000 languages by 2050 and to help other translation agencies in as many other Bible translation projects as we can. We thank God for the 23 new translation projects underway and trust Him for His lead as we knock on doors in Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Africa. At the outset of the first quarter of 2023, we have much for which to praise God and lean on Him. We give Him glory for how He is helping us build capacity in our organisation. We give Him praise for the explosive growth in projects. He is strengthening us for the task He has set before us!
There has been much work done to support the growth we have experienced. As part of our strategic renewal, we plan to establish a Relational Services Team committed to being intentional about organisational transformation, coordinating leadership development, supporting capacity-building initiatives, and formalising organisational learning. It includes targeted development initiatives focused on helping our members and staff find, form and facilitate excellence in our relationships, as well as help us serve each other in excellence to accomplish the ultimate goal of the organisation: transforming lives and equipping indigenous communities to translate the Word of God in their own language.
It is astounding to see how heart-language Bible translation projects have grown globally. In that context, we thank God specifically for the successful launch of the new translation project in Namibia. Namibia is a stunning country in Southern Africa, home to the world’s oldest desert and some of the highest sand dunes! Interestingly, it is a country with a wide diversity of about 30 languages. Around 11 of those languages are native to Namibia, with the balance being languages from around the world.
The Diploma in Translation course (DBT) began in earnest at the end of last year with 24 participants from different parts of Namibia. They gathered at a guest house in a town called Katima Mulilo for a groundbreaking beginning of heart-language Bible translation. One of the most foundational and important aspects of mother-tongue Bible translation work is how the training impacts the students themselves. As discussed in our blogs over the last two months of 2022, we looked at what it is like to be a translator. It is often life-changing and impacts them deeply as Christians. With this ‘birth’ of a new project in Namibia, we have been deeply encouraged by some of the feedback from the participants.
Elvis is one of the DBT students, and he said that as he was on his way to the first workshop in December 2022, reality dawned on him. He thought, “How does someone dare to translate the Bible? Am I even capable? I am just a cook and a keyboard player at church. Why me? Is it even possible?” These same thoughts are also what we heard from a DBT student in Ethiopia last year who didn’t believe it was possible to learn to translate the Bible, and Dr Veroni Kruger encouraged the Ethiopian DBT students that with a little bit of hard work and God’s grace, it is possible! Once Elvis got to the DBT workshop, Domingos Buta encouraged him and helped him see that it is possible and very important to translate the Bible into his language. Elvis realised that he does have a role to play because as a mother-tongue speaker of Mbalantu he is in an excellent position to serve God and people in this way. He began thinking, “I will not do this for myself, but for my son and my community - which gives me great joy!”
Lastly, and most importantly, we look to our God and lean on Him for insight, understanding, wisdom, and strength within the context of all 23 new heart language Bible translation projects. How many more new projects does God have in store this year? Please join us as we pray for the Namibian team and the DBT students there, as well as all the other new projects. May the Spirit enable us all to run the race He has set before us in faith, hope and love.