In a small rural church nestled in the mountains of West Timor*, seven families worshiped together. In their homes and with each other outside of church, they primarily spoke their mother tongue, the language they spoke from birth, Tetun. But in church services, following the only model they knew, they used Indonesian**. Their Bibles were also in Indonesian. Because they didn’t speak or handle Indonesian very well, there was much they didn’t understand!
Then came exciting news: God spoke Tetun! Tetun translators, working under the direction of the Evangelical Protestant Church of Timor (GMIT) and guided by Wycliffe advisor Dr. Barbara Grimes, had translated and published the New Testament plus Genesis in their language. Continue reading

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Living Translations

As part of the worldwide Bible translation ministry, we have the privilege of translating God’s Word into other languages and sharing it in written and oral forms. But God also expects us to be living translations of his Word, showing the world what He is like by the way we talk and act.

Jim*, one of our staff members, was traveling overseas and landed in an airport he hadn’t visited before. As he went through customs, he looked for the right place to declare an item he was carrying. Suddenly he heard someone call, “Jim! Jim!”He was sure that no one would know him there, but he turned around anyway. A young customs employee came up to him. “Do you remember me?” he asked. Caught completely off guard, Jim said, “I…I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I do.” Continue reading

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What Language Does God Speak?

Morgan Jackson, director of Faith Comes By Hearing, remembers the day some years ago when he visited a Konkomba village in Ghana. His organization partners with Bible translators to produce audio recordings of Scripture, and he asked the Konkomba leaders if they’d like to listen to God’s message in their language.  

A translated Bible and two Nokia cell phones sit beside a Senegalese girl.

“If a translation of the Bible exists in a language, it is, or soon will be, as close as the nearest smartphone.”

They didn’t believe it was possible. “God doesn’t speak our language,” they said.  “He only speaks English.”

“But God does speak Konkomba,” Morgan said. He turned on an audio player, and the words of Matthew 1:1 in Konkomba filled the air. “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah….”  Continue reading

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The Digital Teacher

cell phone - French & Karang

“Four” in French and Karang

While many of us already access, engage with and think about reading Scriptures on a mobile device, most of us don’t stop to think about how people learn to read and write.

“My Language, Karang,” is a book designed to teach Karang middle school and high school students in northern Cameroon how to read their own language.  They already know how to read some French because their public school education is in French. Now at home they can transition to reading Karang so they can record folktales, stories and songs, and read their new Karang Scriptures.  Continue reading

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Unwritable No More

Checking the Lubwisi translation

Mulindi, a speaker of the Lubwisi language in Uganda, attended church for 50 years before he heard a Bible verse read in his own language. “People used to say that no one would manage to write the Bible in Lubwisi because it is an unwritable language,” he said.

But then someone did write the language. They chose symbols for an alphabet that fit the Lubwisi language, and they began writing stories and books, including HIV/AIDS materials that benefitted their people greatly. They even created an online dictionary.

Most importantly, they translated the Bible. At the end of July 2016, the Lubwisi people will celebrate the arrival of the New Testament in their language.

Mulinda says, “I am like the old man Simeon in the Bible whom the Holy Spirit promised would not die without seeing the Messiah. God has given me a time of grace in this world so that I can hear the Word of God in my own language, the language which I understand.”

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Stone of Remembrance

LubiwisTwoIn March 2015, Ugandan people speaking four different languages — Lubwisi, Lugungu, Lugwere, and Lunyole — gathered to celebrate the completion of New Testament drafts into each of these languages, the languages of their birth, their mother tongues. Continue reading

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Would JESUS go to a disco?

Today should have been a beautiful day in Orlando…but it wasn’t.  What promised to be a day of worship, picnics, and trips to the beach didn’t happen. The unimaginable and tragic happened at 2am and we woke to the horrific news that 50 people had been murdered at what is now described as the worst mass shooting in US history. Continue reading

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