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In the late 1980s, John and Bonnie Nystrom came alongside several men from Arop village in Papua New Guinea to translate the Bible into the local language. But a decade later, a massive tsunami took the lives of many in Arop village, including one of the translators.

Wycliffe Bible Translators is proud to present this short film about the Nystrom family and the sacrifice, teamwork and faith of the Aitape West Translation Project team in the face of tragedy. We encourage you to set aside an evening to watch it with your family, or share it with your church and other members of your community. Grab a cup of coffee or some popcorn and enjoy this film together! And don’t forget to download the accompanying discussion questions so your group can further engage with the Arop story.

Visit wycliffe.org/arop for more information about the film and translation project.

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By Melissa Paredes
Photos by Marc Ewell & Heather Pubols

Every language needs the Bible in a format that people can clearly understand, whether it’s oral storytelling, written text, audio recordings or video. While the number of languages still waiting for Bible translation is progressively decreasing, none of the Deaf communities around the world have a full Bible in their own respective languages. Some have books and some have portions, but most have nothing at all. Deaf people worldwide are still waiting for a full Bible that they can understand.

Japanese Sign Language is one of those languages. Although multiple Japanese Bible translations have been published, they cannot be used to reach the Deaf community. Many Japanese Deaf only learn written Japanese as a school subject, never hearing it spoken to learn it naturally; a translation must be done specifically for the Japanese Sign Language community.

The Word UnderstoodThe “JESUS” film is already available in Japanese Sign Language, but the Deaf community still needs more—they need access to the Scriptures in their own language, one that speaks directly to their hearts.

That’s why they’ve been working on a Japanese Sign Language Bible. Deaf signers are bringing the Scriptures to life on a video screen. They aren’t just translating the words from the Japanese Bible; they are creating an entirely new translation, and every draft is done through recorded video. The team then goes back — often multiple times — to ensure that the signed footage is presenting the Bible passage clearly, accurately and authentically.

Roughly 20 percent has already been completed, and while work on the JSL Bible is still ongoing, the team is beginning to see the results of their labor.

Mr. Ogata does IT work for the ViBi team. He’s a hard worker, putting in long hours to make all the equipment work, but he’s not easily excitable. On one particular day, though, he was ecstatic.

“Last week I was alone at the office and we got a Skype call,” Mr. Ogata shared. “ViBi had had a visitor from another part of Japan who was so excited about the Japanese Sign Language Bible. He took three full DVD sets with him, and one went to a gentleman on the coast (where the tsunami and nuclear meltdown wreaked havoc).

“Well, it was that gentleman who called. He’s from [a church that doesn’t allow the ViBi translation], and he was so excited. ‘I’ve been a Christian more than forty years, and could never understand the Bible. I just had to try and do what the pastor said. I knew I should read the Bible, but I never ‘got it.’ This is totally different. It’s so clear! Now I can really know what the Bible is saying.’”The Word Understood2

That’s why Mr. Ogata and others on the ViBi team do what they do—for that moment of clarity when suddenly, everything clicks into place and the truth of the Scriptures is finally made clear. And what a beautiful thing it is when God’s Word speaks directly to hearts in the way they understand best. It’s definitely something worth feeling ecstatic about!

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Manjak Bible translators and literacy specialists in Senegal work in partnership to ensure that when the translation is finished, the Manjak people will be able to understand it and apply the Gospel to their lives.

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In honor of Bible Translation Day, we’re debuting a brand new video!

Learn how the Bible transforms people’s lives when it’s written in a language they can clearly understand, and discover how many language groups are still waiting for their own translation.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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Earlier this year, Ivan and Jesse Dishman attended Wycliffe’s new missionary training and told the story of how they decided to serve God in Papua New Guinea. We enjoyed hearing it so much that we wanted to share it:

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David Bowden is a spoken word poet who recently witnessed a translation project happening in India. This poem is about his experience there. Find out more information at EndBiblePoverty.org, an initiative of our partner The Seed Company.

 

Trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch it at its original source on YouTube.

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This summer you can take advantage of a special matching gift opportunity. When you give to our First Words to Final Printing campaign, your gifts up to $175,000 will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to committed Wycliffe partners who want to help bring God’s Word to the Bibleless!

Listen to Russ Hersman, Wycliffe USA’s COO, tell about the opportunity in this video:

Go to www.wycliffefirstwords.com to learn more!

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