Extraordinary growth in heart-language Bible translation has seen more projects initiated in a year than ever before! “A tipping point has been reached: for the first time in history, the number of languages with work in progress (3,742) has exceeded the number of languages without work in progress (3,652)”, State of the Bible 2023. This progress accelerates because translating the Bible into the everyday sayings and natural patterns of a language serves as the gateway into the heart of that community. Trust, openness, and ownership form some of the foundations of heart-language translation work.
Language communities understand they have an opportunity to respond to the call of God to translate the living Scriptures, things shift. Old expectations of a so-called expert coming in from the outside to do the translation work for them begin to fade as the realization hits their hearts: I am an expert at my own language, and God speaks to my people in our language! Deeply rooted ownership of Bible translation grows a strong and sturdy plant of interconnected relationships, support, and generosity between the local people where everyone plays a part in bringing about the fruit - the community’s very own Bible in their very own language for the first time in history. These committed believers become part of His-story as our Father builds His church.
A newly translated Bible is being launched at the rate of one a month – that’s 12 in the last year, translated for a population about the size of England (55 million).” State of the Bible 2023
Another reason that heart-language Bible translation grows exponentially is because of Oral Bible Translation (OBT). Most of the hard-to-reach communities in our world are oral communities, many do not have an alphabet or any written literature. One of the most exciting aspects of OBT is that the team and community do not have to wait for the entire New Testament, or even a book to be completed to access it. Once community leaders and a certified translation consultant approve and authenticate the audio files, the software can immediately export and make the audio Scriptures accessible.
Both written and oral translators say they never imagined God would use ordinary people in such a powerful way. These passionate men and women report a sense of great hope and joy as their communities use portions of translated Scripture in church services, Bible studies and community-testing visits where non-Christians hear the gospel for the first time. The Holy Spirit refreshes weary hearts as the translators see Him fulfilling people’s desire to know Him more deeply. Through His Word, He opens the hearts of unbelievers to God's great love for them.
Enduring translators draw strength from this encouragement to push through hardships such as facing gunfire from soldiers, sacrificing time tending to their farms, and treacherous travel to attend translation training. When these precious brothers and sisters see friends and loved ones recognize that God has spoken directly to them within the naturalness of the translated Scripture, they see that God becomes their God; Christ becomes their Savior.
Pray with us for the body of Christ around the globe that, together, we would continue in what God has called us to – the Great Commission. May He strengthen and empower every one of us as we become part of His-story.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20, NIV