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New translation in Panama represents ongoing work to provide Scriptures in every language

Representatives from Wycliffe Bible Translators USA recently presented a complete Bible in the Kuna language to Dr. Paul Nyquist, president of Moody Global Ministries.

Forrest Zander, a 1954 Moody Aviation alumnus and longtime Wycliffe missionary pilot, along with Tim Born, Wycliffe’s senior director of strategic partnerships, gave the gift in recognition of a 2009 Moody Radio campaign that raised half a million dollars from listeners to fund Bible translation projects in Panama and Peru.

Wycliffe representatives Tom Born (left) and Forrest Zander (middle) present Moody president Dr. Paul Nyquist (right) with a Kuna Bible.

Wycliffe representatives Tim Born (left) and Forrest Zander (middle)
present Moody president Dr. Paul Nyquist (right) with a Kuna Bible.

“We are honored to be part of this effort to equip the Kuna people of Panama with the entire Bible in their language,” said Dr. Nyquist. “This translation project is at the heart of Moody’s mission to equip people with the truth of God’s Word across the globe, cultures and generations. We will pray that those who receive the Scripture in their mother tongue will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and that believers will be equipped to grow and share the truth with others.”

This story was originally posted at Moody Global Ministries. Click here to read the full article.

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“It is a surprise to me to hear someone reading the Word of God in Lubwisi,” said Kijanjaalo Christopher, a 72-year-old Babwisi man from Uganda. His community speaks Lubwisi as their heart language, though their Bibles don’t reflect that. “This was impossible for us to have the Word of God written in Lubwisi because, in terms of finance, we are not qualified because we are poor.”

Many Babwisi people have a real thirst for the Bible. Without Lubwisi Scripture, the church has struggled to develop strong leaders who can teach effectively. Pastor Bakasoma Michael said, “There is no way the Babwisi community will understand the Savior when they do not have the Lubwisi Bible, which they can understand. As pastors, we struggled to understand the words of the Bibles that are not in our language.”

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In recent years, God has answered the prayers of Kijanjaalo Christopher, Pastor Bakasoma Michael and countless other Babwisi people by providing four educated, dedicated Babwisi men to translate their Scriptures. Since 2006, the Babwisi have partnered with Wycliffe and the Seed Company in Bible translation. Today they’ve completed the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, which will be dedicated in June 2015.

But the Babwisi need help getting the Bibles printed. Wycliffe is working with the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce to print and deliver 5,000 Bibles to the Babwisi this summer, and you can help us. A donation of just $8.50 — less than the cost of eating one meal out — provides a Bible. Visit Bibles for Babwisi to learn how you can get involved today.

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Bennett is a Sudanese translator who experienced God’s hand of provision in a dramatic and miraculous way.

“God spared my life and the life of my family for translation work,” he says. And Bennett believes that God will make a way for every person in South Sudan to have Scripture translated in their own language.

Bennett’s story began when he dedicated himself to translating Scripture into the Baka language spoken by his people. But soon after, civil war erupted in Sudan and vicious fighting drove Bennett and his family out of their home in Maridi.

Almost everyone in his village was killed in the attack. Many others died on the 100-mile walk through the forests to a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Despite these terrible hardships, Bennett’s resolve to translate God’s Word did not waver. Soon others in the camp began to share his desire for Scripture translation.

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Word spread and Wycliffe had the great privilege to come alongside these Baka Christians to help provide training and support to move Bible translation forward in their language. With the help of generous partners like you, Bennett’s translation team worked in the Congo for seven years until the war ended in Sudan.

When Bennett was about to return home, he was arrested, torn from his family and forced to witness the execution of eight men. Then the soldiers came to kill Bennett.

That was the day a miracle happened!

“God entered into them,” says Bennett, and the soldiers suddenly changed their minds. In a moment they were transformed from grim executioners into bodyguards that accompanied Bennett on his journey back to Sudan.

With an unshakeable confidence in God’s provision, Bennett has overcome many other obstacles since that day. He knows beyond a doubt that God wants him to bring Scripture to the Baka people in the language they understand best — so they too can experience the transforming love of God.

You can help provide the Bible’s message of hope to war-weary people by mobilizing courageous South Sudanese translators like Bennett. Donations will be matched — dollar-for-dollar — to double in impact and bring God’s Word to more people in South Sudan, and bring it sooner. Visit wycliffe.org/SouthSudan to give today.

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Meet Elvis

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

“If we are to understand the Word of God, God needs to translate himself into our language, so that his words can speak deeply to each person,” reflects Elvis. “It’s the translation of the Word of God into my language that is at the base of my own faith.”

When this photo was taken, Elvis was serving as the language program manager for ACATBA (Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy in English). His pastor, Georges, says of Elvis: “Elvis is a man of God. His work in translating the Scripture means that all people in CAR can make good use of the word of God.”

According to Wycliffe Global Alliance, there are 83 languages spoken in the Central African Republic, and 54 of those have no Scripture at all. But because of people like Elvis who are dedicated to the work of Bible translation, this number will continue to decrease as the number of languages who have the Scriptures increase.

Elvis is dedicated to bringing God’s Word to the Gbeya speakers in Bossangoa, Central African Republic. You can help fund Bible translation in Central African Republic here.

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By Hannah Weiand
Hannah is a Wycliffe USA intern, attending Oral Roberts University. Hannah will graduate with a degree in Writing in May 2015.

People sometimes ask, “Why not just translate the Bible using Google Translate? Wouldn’t that save you a lot of time, money and effort?” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

In today’s world, where technology is advancing rapidly and information is more accessible than ever, it’s important to realize that Bible translation is more than just a process of word substitution. There are approximately 7,000 languages in the world, and just under 2,000 of those languages are completely without Scripture. As intriguing as it might seem to use a tool like Google Translate to provide the Bible for those remaining languages, it simply doesn’t work.

Here’s why:

First, according to Google Translate’s website, Google Translate uses a process called “statistical machine translation.” Google explains this process as the computer detecting patterns in documents on the Internet that have already been translated by human translators. The problem here is that language groups that still need a Bible translation are typically underdeveloped, at best, and some don’t even have an alphabet. So little-to-no material appears on the Internet in those languages. And even for those languages that Google Translate does serve, Google states that “For some languages, however, we have fewer translated documents available, and therefore, fewer patterns that our software has detected. This is why our language quality will vary by language and language pair.

Second, there is a problem with the lack of languages that Google has to offer. While its program continues to grow, it currently only has 80 languages in its repertoire, making its benefits very exclusive.

Mainly, however, there is more to the process of translation than what tools like Google Translate can or cannot do. One thing that a computer tool like Google Translate cannot account for is culture. The process of translating the Bible for people who have never had it in their own language requires an understanding of their way of life. Only through that understanding can we properly communicate the complex, powerful concepts found in the Bible.

Steve Pillenger lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and works as a type setter.

For example, we love God with all of our hearts and accept Jesus into our hearts. But in many cultures around the world, the heart is not considered the center of the emotions. Consider the Awa people of Papua New Guinea, who express feelings and importance with the liver. They wouldn’t say “I love you with all of my heart”; they would say something along the lines of “I love you with all of my liver.”

Cultural context aside, we must also consider the many complexities of language. For example, some languages have multiple ways to describe something that may be a single-word concept in English, while other languages may not have a word for that concept at all. And some languages take entirely different forms, like those that are whistled or signed. (There are nearly 400 different sign languages in the world, and most of them are without the Bible!)

All of these factors help explain why Bible translation takes so much time, dedication and personal investment. And in the end, nothing can replace that personal connection.

This post is part of our Wycliffe 101 series. Click here to read the previous post, or here to start at the beginning.

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This Christmas, experience the joy of giving all over again through the Wycliffe Gift Catalog!

With 25 unique gift options, you’re sure to find just the right one for every person on your list. And you can feel good knowing that your purchases are helping people get God’s life-changing Word in the languages they understand best.

Click here to view the catalog.

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By Tim Lithgow with Richard Gretsky

In the early 1980s, Barbara Hardin and Linda Weisenburger settled on the Papua New Guinean coast, a few hours’ drive north of Madang, where they planned to study the Maia—the local language—and translate the Bible into it. But they soon discovered that the local people weren’t very interested in their own language, content to converse in English and the trade language of Pigin. Discouraged, it wasn’t long before the two women seriously considering giving up.

Then one day some people from a neighboring village, who also spoke Maia, came and asked the women to help translate their language. Barbara and Linda were reserved because of their previous attempts with the language group, but encouraged enough that the people reached out to them, that they agreed to help, moving their work to the new village. However, despite the fervent support of a few Maia people, many others were not interested in the language program. Logistical challenges, like having to be helicoptered in during the wet season due to a deteriorating road, added to the emotional difficulty of pouring themselves into the project with many setbacks, struggles, and low interest from the community.

New Sounds in the Night—Dusk

Year in, year out, they worked for many years—facing the challenges inherent to rural Bible translation.

Finally, their work came to an end, and they were ready to hold a Scripture celebration to dedicate portions of the Bible in Maia. Genesis, Ruth, Matthew, Mark, Acts, and a few epistles (in print form and on Audibibles*) were to be presented. In the midst of preparations, Barbara and Linda were encouraged that the community worked together to prepare for the ceremony.

On the dedication day, the people’s excitement showed, as dancers escorted visitors into the village, actors presented dramas depicting the truth of God’s Word protecting people from evil, and public speakers reminded the community of the importance of having Scripture in their own language.

As the sun set over the jungle, the nightly noise of the cicadas and other tropical creatures was mixed with the sound of Maia Scriptures being played on the Audibibles*. Groups of people throughout the village were finally listening to the life-changing message of God’s Word in their mother tongue.

*Audibibles are pre-recorded mp3 players with portions of Scripture stored on them.

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