Cut off by his family, persecuted by the local police, and braving multiple attempts at the theft of his livelihood are all things that Boe* endures as a follower of Christ. He lives in a part of the world where to be a Christian is to be at risk daily. In addition to persecution, he suffered because he lacked a Christian community or the life-giving Scriptures in his language. Life changed for Boe one day when a man told him about Bible translation work and invited him to do something about the lack of God’s Word in their area. He decided to take personal responsibility for translating the Bible into his community's heart language, joined the new team, and began training in Oral Bible Translation.
The Word For The World exists to equip women and men like Boe and enable them to respond to God’s call on their lives to take responsibility for Bible translation in their own communities. Oral Bible Translation training is a two to three-week immersive learning experience where trainees eat, sleep, and learn together. The photo below is an example of these selfless translators’ sleeping space, who came from five different villages in the SE Asia region. There is an electric sense of camaraderie and excitement when individuals discuss and share their hearts about what they are learning. At times, the privilege of being involved in the Great Commission in this way feels unbelievable. Time passes quickly as these translators-in-training collaborate, swap notes, share opinions, solve problems, and deeply ponder technicalities to do with things like meaning and vocabulary.
There are many roles within an Oral Bible Translation training course, including IT support, accommodation arrangement, food provision, and preparation and cleanup, which the local churches take responsibility for. This is what having lunch together on an Oral Bible Translation workshop day looks like in the photo below. It is the tradition of this people group to have their meals by sitting on the floor.
God gives oral Bible translation trainees hope as their eager minds engage in the learning process. Even before embarking on the official translation work, these brothers and sisters experience God's love through a personal connection to Him, hearing His words in the language they know best. One of the most exciting aspects of Oral Bible Translation is that the team and community do not have to wait for the entire New Testament, or even a book of the Bible to be completed to have access to it. Once the audio files have been approved and authenticated by the community leaders and a certified translation consultant, they can be exported from the software and made accessible to share immediately. Just one verse or passage of Scripture can have a huge impact on someone when they hear it in their own language!
There are thousands of oral communities globally who live in unreached places and have never heard of Jesus Christ and what He has done for them in a language they can understand. Oral Bible Translation work is a powerful way for the body of Christ to fulfil the Great Commission because it provides a much quicker and more effective way to share the gospel with the millions of oral communities who will never be able to read the Bible.
A man in the community experienced his heart opened by God to the truth of the gospel when he observed the love, humility, and kindness in his wife’s behavior. In stark contrast, he openly confessed to a life trapped in sin and fear. The gospel's saving power, revealing God's mercy and grace through Jesus Christ, ignited a profound transformation. Later, this transformed man joyfully embraced God's call to translate oral Scriptures into his heart language. What astounded him was the community's growing curiosity as they witnessed his involvement and heard sample Bible verses. He passionately affirms that faith emerges from engaging with the Word of God.
This brings us to sixteen Oral Bible Translation projects in Africa and a total of twenty-one projects, including SE Asia. Please pray for all the new training workshops, that God would strengthen and empower the trainers and trainees by his Holy Spirit to do their work with excellence, endurance, and joy.