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Atara Koffi is a translator for the Akebu people in Togo, Africa. Though his family was heavily involved in traditional, pagan religion, Atara learned about Jesus and became a Christian early on. Now he wants his family and community to know the truth of the Gospel like he does. This is his testimony.

“I am from a family that doesn’t know Christ. My grandfather was one of the greatest fetish priests in the Akebu region. People came from various parts of our land and beyond to consult him. Some of the things that lead the Akebu to believe and devote themselves to the traditional gods are the fear of the invisible and of witches and wizards.

Atara

Photo by Marianne Harvey

“When I was very young, I stayed with my grandfather and participated in his practices. Though a fetish priest, he allowed me to attend the local Catholic church. I attended church, but still continued with the traditional religion. I was going to church without having a personal relationship with the Lord.

“At school, I passed all exams without much difficulty until I reached the last class in high school. I took the same exam many times without success. Then one day a colleague came to me and shared the Gospel with me. He encouraged me to accept Jesus as my personal Savior. I accepted, gave my life to the Lord, and passed the exam that same year. I joined a local church and got baptized some months later. I have been a Christian since then.”

Why Bible translation?

“After my conversion I was asked to stand by the preachers of the church to translate their preaching into our local language, Akebu. I used to do it with a great joy and devotion. Through that service I could see the importance of language in the communication of the Word of God. I also came to understand that many people in my church and in other churches in my Akebu region did not understand the message at all when it was not translated. Then one day the leader of an evangelistic group I was working with called me and said, ‘My brother, I wish you were trained to translate the Bible into your language!’ That started my desire to translate the Scriptures for my people.

“I was sent some years later to be trained as a Bible translator. I have chosen to devote myself to Bible translation because the Bible in the Akebu language will have more impact on my people. Non-Christians will come to Christ through their contact with the saving Word of God in our language, and Christians will be strengthened in their relationship with God, for they will know Him personally.”

Atara and many other translators need our support this summer, when giving tends to drop and their work is harder to sustain. You can help the Akebu translation keep moving forward by supporting Wycliffe’s summer campaign

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In case you missed some of what we shared about the Americas area these last three weeks, here are some highlights:

“From Panama…”

“From Panama…”

-On our first day we learned many delightful facts about the Americas area from our awesome infographic.

-We were encouraged by the great lengths that people like Jerry Brown and his sons go to so they can have Scripture in their language.

-We met Kyle and found out how information technology plays a massive role in Bible translation.

-And we learned how impactful it is for people like the Kaiwá and the Dâw when they finally receive Scripture in their language.

 

Stay tuned for the next three weeks as we focus on Europe!

“…to Russia.”

“…to Russia.”

 

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Learn about a wonderful translation project.

Estimates suggest that at least one hundred thousand people speak Mexican Sign Language (LSM), but only one-percent have ever attended a church service where their language was spoken. And there are only a few dozen small Deaf churches or churches with outreaches to the Deaf throughout the country of Mexico.

The vast majority of Deaf Mexicans, whether they attend church or not, currently have no practical access to God’s Word, but the LSM translation team reports that Deaf Mexicans have responded quite positively to the books of the Bible that have been translated so far.

Mexican Sign Language2The primary goal of the Mexican Sign Language translation project, which began full-time work in 1999, is to reach Deaf Mexicans with the Gospel and to facilitate the growth of an indigenous Deaf Mexican church by translating and widely distributing the entire Bible in LSM.

Another major goal is to enable Deaf Mexican children and adults—as well as interpreters, parents, and teachers of the Deaf—to gain more fluency in LSM. This will permit Deaf Mexicans to understand the LSM Scriptures better and have a higher overall quality of life.

You can help bring Scripture to people like the Deaf of Mexico in the language they understand best. Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how.

 

 

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By Melissa Paredes

Countdown to ZeroOur goal is zero: Zero languages without Scripture, zero people without access to God’s Word in the language they understand best, zero communities waiting to hear God speak their language.

In Papua New Guinea—a country with the second highest translation need in the world—over 830 languages are spoken today, and about 450 of those have no Scripture at all. But on June 8, 2014, the Arop-Lokep language in Papua New Guinea dedicated their New Testament, joining the number of languages with access to Scripture. That’s one less language without God’s Word in their heart language.Countdown to Zero2

The day was filled with celebration. Traditional dress, music, and dancing were all important parts of the day, and joyful smiles reflected the excitement people felt. After all, they had waited a very long time for this day when the Bible would finally be distributed in the language they understand best.

“Before, it was in Tok Pisin and English. Now it is in our heart language and it is more clear to us,” said Hiskel, an Arop-Lokep speaker attending the celebration. “We can see and read it in our language. We are all very happy that they made this Bible in our heart language.”

And now future generations will be able to see it in their language too.

Countdown to Zero3“The spiritual impact of this Bible translation will be reflected in eternity,” said Jeff and Sissie D’Jernes, who co-translated the Arop-Lokep New Testament. They’re right. Because the Arop-Lokep people can now read the Bible in their own language, future generations will be able to know, serve, and love a God Who doesn’t just speak and care about the major languages of the world, but also the minority languages like theirs.

The countdown continues. With each Scripture celebration, the number of languages stillCountdown to Zero4 waiting for access to God’s Word decreases. And one day all languages will know what the Arop-Lokep people know—that God speaks their heart language and knows them intimately.

 

 

To see a video of the Arop-Lokep Scripture dedication, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7dtwbK-0RE. To learn more about what God is doing in Papua New Guinea, visit http://thepngexperience.wordpress.com/.

 

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My Language, But Not YoursCommunicating between different language communities can be difficult. Unless a mutual language is spoken—often a language of wider communication such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, or French—language barriers can be seemingly insurmountable.

These barriers are something that people in South Tanna, Vanuatu, face every day.

Most people in South Tanna are taught in English and French at school. But since most do not continue attending school after year six, their understanding of those languages quickly fades. So using the Bible in those languages is not an option.

The Bible is also available in Bislama, the language people use to communicate when someone doesn’t know their language. But most people only know Bislama well enough to carry on basic conversations, not heart-level discussions.

The people in South Tanna speak Nafe. That’s their heart language—the language that they speak in their homes, in their gardens, and as they are working.

The Nafe language needs its own Bible translation. And this summer, they’re finally receiving it. On June 13, the Nafe New Testament was dedicated!

You can help bring Scripture to people like the Nafe in the language they understand best. Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how.

Read more about the Nafe language here.

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This story was originally published at Wycliffe.net.

by Karen Weaver, Tim Scott

Papua New Guinea

 

13 09 24 p3Linguistics captivated Luai during her studies at Keravat National High School. Although she wanted to study advanced linguistics at the university level, she put that dream aside when she got married and began working at a bank.

Several years later, Luai’s pastor needed a representative from the Nalik language area to attend the New Ireland Translation Institute (NITI). He encouraged Luai to attend. Going to NITI rekindled Luai’s interest in linguistics and initiated her involvement in translating the Nalik New Testament.

Initially Luai’s husband did not show any interest in her work with the Nalik translation, but he now supports her. This is a great encouragement to Luai.

Further encouragement came through an unexpected visitor. A lady came to the village and noticed that Luai’s home was disorderly and that she hadn’t raked the yard. When Luai explained that she spends many hours translating the New Testament and has little time for her own work, this visitor offered to send her daughter to help with housework. Luai testifies, “Her daughter has been a big help to me.”

13 09 24 p1Later, Luai heard that this same woman had become ill, so she went to visit her. While there, a group gathered in the house. Luai used the opportunity to check a portion of the translation with these people to see if the meaning was clear to them and if it sounded natural. As she left, her new friend requested, “Please come back again and check more Scripture in my house.” When Luai asked why, her friend explained, “I don’t have a Bible. I sometimes go to church and listen to sermons, but I have never read the Bible for myself.”

Following her request, Luai has returned several times. The group of listeners has expanded to include several students from a local trade school. Luai testifies, “I praise God who chose me to translate the Bible into my own language. As I translate I see God and my eyes are opened. He has given many promises to those who follow him. He is faithful!”

Photos by Tim Scott

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This story is an excerpt from The Finish Line monthly downloads. The Finish Line is a guide to praying for translation projects within three years of completion.

 

Motivated By Scripture—Southeast Asia 

Having access to God’s Word in a community’s heart language is important, but people also need to be able to understand how to use the Bible and apply its teachings to their daily lives. That’s why Scripture use workshops are so important—to equip people in reading and studying the Bible for further understanding. In one community, a workshop was to begin after the Sunday morning service. Five hundred worshipers crowded into the morning service because they were so excited about the workshop in the upcoming days!???????????????????????????????????????????? One of the attendees was seventy years old. She walked a total of four hours every day, to and from her home in the mountains, so that she could attend the workshop! Then she’d head home each evening to look after her husband, who was paralyzed from a stroke. What a beautiful testimony of a woman who is motivated to learn more about the Scriptures!

 

Want to read more stories about lives changed through Scripture, or learn how to pray for people waiting for a Bible in their heart language? Sign up to receive The Finish Line monthly downloads today!

 

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Russel is a Bible translator for his own language, Majukayong, in the Philippines. He’s been working on the project for over twelve years, having joined the team back in 2002. Although Russel is a shy man by nature, he knew that sharing God’s Word with his people was important. So he would bring home drafted portions of the New Testament they were translating into his mother tongue, and gather his neighbors together to read and discuss the flow of the translated text in their own language.

???????????????????????????????As Russel continued to hold these gatherings, they eventually developed into a Bible study. And as time went on, the group began to multiply. God’s Word in their heart language was making a difference as more people became interested in what the Bible said, and it was visibly spreading across their community as more and more people joined the group.

In 2005 a church was built and Russel was commissioned as pastor to the new congregation. Now he is no longer known as a shy man, but rather as a passionate preacher of the Scriptures to the Majukayong community. Russel is also the first pastor in the community to use the translated Scripture in their heart language!

But more people need access to the Bible in Majukayong. In a community that has long practiced revenge killing, legalistic rituals, and animistic practices, Russel and the translation team believe that God’s Word in the heart language has the power to transform lives. For those who already believe, there is a desire to ???????????????????????????????understand the Scriptures for themselves, without relying on pastors from other communities to interpret the Scripture from another language.

You can help print Bibles for the Majukayong community and make a difference in this community through the gift of God’s Word in their heart language.

Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how!

 

 

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By Melissa Chesnut

Juan* has lived a difficult life. As a child, he grew up in a home where his mother would vent her anger and frustration by hitting him, and his father was bound to alcohol. His parents separated when he was very young, and his mother left him in a neighboring community with his grandparents. After that, Juan never heard from his mother again.

Juan’s life didn’t get any easier over the years. “At six years of age … I became a practicing atheist,” Juan said.  With nothing and no one to believe in, he began to act out towards his grandparents and was drawn to alcohol himself. By thirty-two, Juan was an alcoholic.

“I was losing my family, my friends, their trust, my community work, everything, because I had begun stealing things,” Juan said.

But God had other plans for Juan.

The Scriptures had been recorded in Chipaya, Juan’s language. Faith Comes By Hearing, a partner organization of Wycliffe, and the Bible Society had brought devices called Proclaimers that would play the recorded Scripture. Juan knew of them, but chose to give them no importance. After all, he didn’t believe that God existed. Sometimes, though, he would pass the door of the church on his evening walk around the city and stand by the door of a church, listening to the recording for a while before going on his way.The Repentant Atheist

After several months of occasional listening, one night Juan heard something that really caught his attention. Afterwards, he went to talk to the pastor about it, sharing, “I heard some words that seemed so straightforward that it seemed like they were being spoken directly to me.”

The pastor told Juan that the verse played that night was 1 John 3:8. He showed him the verse in the Chipaya New Testament. It read, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Those words made an impact on Juan’s heart.

“I could not understand how God could speak to me so directly,” Juan reflected, “and how He could change my life that was so full of problems. I have to say that every time this device was turned on and sound came out, and when it proclaimed the Word, my body shook. Because of this, the next time I stopped by there, the pastor invited me to repent.”

So that day, Juan—an atheist for most of his life—believed in God.

“I didn’t know at the time what was happening,” Juan said, “but I remember being prostrate and crying like a child receiving God’s love in my life.”

Now Juan encourages other people to listen to this device. “…I have told the people they have to listen to this device because God is speaking to us in our language and He is speaking clearly so that we will understand Him,” Juan said.  Juan, a professed atheist, confessed that there was a God after he understood, and now he hopes that others too will surrender their lives to God and receive His love themselves.

*A pseudonym

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WYCLIFFE 101—HOW MANY LANGUAGES ARE THERE IN THE WORLD?

Great question! The short answer is, a lot—probably a lot more than you think. By our count there are about 7,000 unique languages in use throughout the world.

Some of these are widely spoken, like French, Mandarin, and Swahili, each with tens of millions of speakers. Others, like Kaiwá, Matsés, and Orokolo, only have a few thousand speakers.

UNIQUENESS

Each one of these languages is somehow distinct from the languages around it. At times, people can understand certain things from languages near to theirs, but it’s rare that they understand them fluently.

That’s where language survey comes in. Prior to beginning new translation projects, we send researchers to areas where people are interested in having the Bible. We ask questions to see if they can clearly understand a nearby language that already has a Bible translation or has had one started. Sometimes they can, but most of the time they end up needing their own translation.*

CLASSIFYING PROJECTS

And that brings us to the numbers. We categorize languages based on whether or not they have God’s Word in them—whether a full Bible, a full New Testament, any smaller portion of the Bible (from New and Old Testaments), or none at all. And there is much nuance involved.

We’d love to tell you what we know!

There are just over 500 languages with a complete Bible translation. There are an additional 1,300 languages with a completed New Testament, and an additional 1,000 that have some portions of Scripture.

Currently, almost 2,200 language projects are underway—some of which are represented in the above numbers.

That’s approximately 5,000 languages with Scripture, but many of them still have work that’s not finished.

We estimate that there are about 1,900 languages that need Bible translation but don’t have a project in place. Some of these communities deeply want to start a project, but there just hasn’t been an opportunity yet—either because of a lack of funding or personnel, or because of other factors. There are also a number of languages that, quite honestly, we’re not sure about yet. Some communities aren’t currently interested in a project. In other cases we don’t have enough information to determine if there’s a need for a translation or not. And some languages are falling out of use as new generations adopt other languages around them instead.

It’s our goal to engage with anyone and everyone, to help them have God’s Word. Our hope is that, regardless of language, each person is able to hear God’s Word to them in their own language—one way or another. That’s our passion.

 

* The Wycliffe Global Alliance has over one hundred organizations in more than sixty countries, but we’re not the only ones translating the Bible—many other organizations join in the work around the world.

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