Bibleless People Groups Rejoice
March 5, 2024

The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. 

Hebrews 4:12, The Jerusalem Bible

The Holy Scriptures. The Word of God. The Bible. Small-printed pages pack expressions of God’s love for this world into one massive tome. English-speaking people can choose from about 900 translations which make Scripture inspirational and pierce our souls with biblical encouragement. But Bibleless people often feel like loopholes in the salvation story–slipping in unknown to God, believing He only connects with those who belong to the honored groups which have His Word in their heart languages.

“Before the translation, people in my community used to think that God was for the other people, since the Bible was written in English and Zezuru. Since the coming of Bible translation, people in my community changed their thinking, and they now know that God is for everyone.” –Barwe translator in Zimbabwe

Some people swear by the King James Version of the Bible. Others would rather step on a fire ant hill than dig through the old-fashioned sounding Scriptures. Most of us appreciate a more modern translation. Our hearts open to the Holy Spirit’s wisdom through the stories and teachings when we don’t have to work hard at doing our own inadequate interpreting of an early English translation. If we couldn’t read the inspiring words of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a language we understand, perhaps many of us would give up following Christ.

“As the translated Scripture was shared to others, they were so happy! The one holy God speaks to us in our heart language!”  –Sala translator in Zambia

The Word for the World’s first National Director in the Democratic Republic of Congo talked about starting Bible translation projects in 2005. Several tribal chiefs attended a meeting to see how much interest the people groups would have in mother-tongue Bible translation. One man from the Bondengese tribe brought a handwritten Bible, stapled in little packets. The proud man desperately asked for training to translate the Bible accurately in his language. Filled with reverence, the tribal leaders and representatives realized they could have the Scriptures in their heart languages. One chief from the Teke tribe became visibly moved because someone thought his language important enough to translate a holy book. The honored leader generously and sacrificially donated a valued commodity:

“I want to support the translation effort; I offer a goat to help.” –Teke tribal chief

For several thousand years, Scripture has provided hope, encouraged exiled people, comforted those who mourn, taught us the importance of community, reminded us to rejoice regardless of circumstance, and connected us to a legacy of the cloud of witnesses who have worshiped God throughout the eras of time. And in all the pages of our sacred book, God meets and speaks in the heart language of those who encounter Him.

When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were blown away. Acts 2:6, The Message

We have the opportunity to eradicate Bible poverty in our world. Tribes, languages, and tongues all over the earth cry out to know the living God and the truth of His Word. Join God’s call today and see His Kingdom come on earth.

“In the community now, for both young and old who are so excited and saying that God was far, but now He has descended into the community because they are able to read the Scripture in their mother tongue!” –Nyiha translator in Malawi

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