‘But why go to all that expense, effort and time to train people to translate the Bible into their mother tongue? Wouldn’t it be better to just go and spread the Gospel?’ This question is one of our favourites, because it gets right to the heart of mother-tongue Bible translation.
The quick answer is - followers of Jesus long for the Bible in their language! When our teams do surveys to find out if communities have a desire for a Bible in their language, time and again they find Christians in those communities who have been praying for years for a Bible in their language. The church already exists in nearly all these places sometimes openly, sometimes underground, sometimes among a few "people of peace". The Gospel has been preached. The work of heart language Bible translation is the outworking of the Great Commission by equipping followers of Christ firstly to respond to God’s call on their lives to translate His Word, and secondly, (as a result of having their own Bible) to then know God more fully.
Another reason for heart-language Bible translation is that it's not just about the end result. God empowers communities through the whole translation training process. TWFTW does not do translation for the people, the people are equipped to respond to what God is stirring within their hearts already.
Equipping language groups for mother-tongue translation and literacy development. “For the people by the people.”
The Lord Himself calls them to translation work, and TWFTW responds by equipping and empowering them with the tools they need – like literacy training, education, financial support, relational support, sourcing equipment, prayer, and ongoing consultation checking. All these resources create an opportunity for true community ownership to develop. These translation projects belong to them. Many translators have testified that they didn’t believe they could ever translate God’s Word, but God makes it possible. If we were to just share the Gospel with them and move on, so much opportunity would be lost.
Some of the wider blessings of heart-language Bible translation training can be seen in Mubita’s story. He believes that God has saved his life and empowered him to serve by calling him to heart-language Bible translation work. He had not grown up with adequate access to education, food, or work opportunities - and yet, God, in His providence, made a way where there seemed no way. He already knew the Gospel, but as he was pouring over the Scriptures during his Diploma in Bible Translation (DBT) course, the light began to come on for him about who God really is, and he experienced the saving power of the Gospel in the pages of the Bible. God’s love and truth poured into his heart and brought his faith to life. In a similar way Marjan and Nikola who are Roma Bible translators found that through the DBT training and becoming full-time translators, their whole lives were changed.
The primary reason that heart-language Bible translation is worth every last effort, every bit of energy, time, and resource is because it brings God glory when we take His living Word to the nations. When Christ's followers are equipped to do heart language Bible translation it fulfils a burning desire in their hearts to know Jesus more fully within the depth and breadth of the whole counsel of Scripture. When each language group has His words in their hands, and they hear from Him directly within those life-changing pages - He gets all the glory.
“We find Christ in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament He is predicted, in the Gospels He is revealed, in Acts He is preached, in the epistles He is explained, and in Revelation He is expected.” Alistair Begg
As the body of Christ, we each have a part to play, and if we want to empower one another to live this life to the fullest, as God intended, we must be tethered to His words in His Word, and help get this beautiful God-breathed book to every corner of our planet as we wait eagerly for His return.
‘Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ‘ Matthew 4:4